Friday, March 7, 2008

Is Skybox a Victim of a Brown Street Bias?

According to this article in the American Journal, the City Council rejected the Skybox Pub and Grill's liquor license (and four other relatively minor licenses) primarily because of the volume of complaints of fights, intoxication, and/or noise related to the Brown Street bar.

Now, I've been to Skybox only once. And, ironically, I departed shortly after I arrived because it wasn't rowdy enough. Nevertheless, if the volume of complaints was the City Council's preferred measure for whether Skybox's liquor license should be rejected or not, the Council may have opened themselves up for complaints of inconsistency.

According to the piece, Stockhouse Restaurant received 4 formal complaints, Fajita Grill received 4, Mill Side Tavern received 7, Profenno's received 9, and Skybox received 13 complaints from February 19, 2007 to February 19, 2008.

Considering these statistics, I think former City Councilor Ed Symbol was correct when he pointed to Skybox's one-complaint-per-month average as a relatively insignificant rate. And he was also correct when he said that by using this criteria, other bars like, say, Profenno's should face as much scrutiny as Skybox has endured when it's the Main Street bar's turn before the council in Room 114.

If that level of scrutiny isn't matched for bars on Main Street or Cumberland Street, it seems to me there is a bias against any bar on Brown Street, and that Skybox's foes are using the number of complaints as a red herring. If the City Council wants to shut down the bar because it's on Brown Street, it should part with the specious arguments and frankly state Brown Street should be barless.

Otherwise, the Council should be consistent and hold other Westbrook bars to the same standards. After all, the City Council shouldn't want complainers of those other bars to think it still doesn't care about their beefs.

- John C.L. Morgan

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