Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Couple Thoughts on the Re-Opening of Skybox

Leslie Bridgers has a good article in this week's American Journal about the reopening of Skybox Bar & Grill on Brown Street (sorry, no link).

To avoid completely regurgitating my earlier arguments against the City Council's denials of Skybox's liquor license last March and August (here, here, and here), I'll just highlight one annoying paragraph and then bombard you, dear reader, with a batch of rhetorical questions related to a head-scratching graf. First, though, the annoying:

Two sets of owners have battled with the city and
worked with the state in order to reopen the Brown Street bar, which was
twice denied liquor licenses by city councilors and the mayor because of the
amount of police calls it generated
. [Emphasis mine.]
Westbrook Police Chief Bustlin' Bill Baker is on record in Bridgers's article for opposing the reopening of the bar for nuisance-related reasons, and a March 2008 PPH news brief regarding the City Council's initial denial of the bar's liquor license notes Westbrook's finest didn't support the bar owners' request for a liquor license last March because "[p]olice say there have been a high number of calls for service at Skybox compared to other licensed liquor establishments in the city." Between February 2007 and February 2008, though, Skybox's thirteen phone calls to the police were only four greater than, say, Profenno's nine or six more than Mill Side Tavern's seven. I know high is a relative term, but when you can count the differences in phone calls over a span of twelve months on one of Antonio Alfonseca's hands, aren't we defining high down?

And the head-scratching:
Mayor Bruce Chuluda said he voted to deny the
license because he wanted the owners to make their case to another body--meaning
the state's Liquor Licensing and ComplianceDivision, which he figured would
overturn the decision.
Did BruChu think Skybox owner Allen Moore needed extra practice to sharpen his public-speaking skills? Or was BruChu's vote against Skybox actually a vote for the bar, so the state Liquor Licensing and Compliance Division could swoop in to rescue the bar from the City Council? Or maybe BruChu's vote was sincere and ground in the belief that Brown Street cannot handle a liquor establishment? Or perhaps BruChu's vote against the bar was a way for him to shift blame from the city's solons to state bureaucrats if something--God forbid--tragic happens at the bar? And finally, why did BruChu vote for killing a business for almost an entire year, despite figuring it would eventually be given life-support by the Liquor Licensing and Compliance Division?

Anyway, these academic exercises aside, congrats to the Moores for securing a license and good luck in the endeavor.

- John C.L. Morgan

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

good luck skybox owners- be tough and diligent- and thanks to westbrook diarist, you were not the only voice speaking against the tide- it pays to fight for your rights-always!!

James Tranchemontagne said...

I am so excited about the Skybox. The signs are up outside. Maybe the Mayor didn't get involved because of his connection with Profennos. Anyways, it is a shame that they are putting so many restrictions of them. It goes against the city's pro-business formula.

Chief Baker should put the failures of Brown Street on himself and stop trying to blame a bar for the problems. I live down there. The lack of police presences, their unwillingness to get involved and the consent blind eye of law enforcement is more of the issue. Again, where are the bike patrols? Two officers talking in the parking lot of the church is not going to do anything. When we were given $2000 in counterfeit money orders from a tenant Detective Violette said it not worth prosecuting. What does that tell the good citizen of the area? People who are trying hard to bring money into this great city are second to the criminals. We lose the $2000 plus $2000 of our own money we had to use to cover the loss. I guess when the tax payers pay your salary $4000 is chump change. I wonder if Chief Baker or Detective Violette was out $4000 what they would do?

Skybox212 said...

I am under the impression that Code officer Rick Gouzie may be the only person on the planet that believes the Skybox Bar and Grill was a class 2 Restaurant. Every one has the #'s and the explanations of the land use ordinances of a class 2 and a class 3. I personally believe his interpretation of the ordinance is an attempt to harm future business owners and ultimately harm Westbrook property owners. It is unfortunate that when we could be spending money to open new business and create jobs. Instead have to invest our hard earned money into attourneys. This does not sound Pro business to me.

Allen Moore

Skybox Bar & Grill

Anonymous said...

What about Pro-resident?? I've lived in Frenchtown for 12 years and I despise the fact that there is a bar in my residential neighborhood that I have to walk past with my children. Main Street - fine. Brown Street - no thanks. It's the wrong location people. It's nothing personal and it's not anti-business, it's pro-family to get this bar out of this neighborhood. It's the wrong place. I think you are missing this point.

skybox212 said...

Anonymous, I must say I believe you are missing the point. For starters you do not have the courage to post your name to your comments? I would like to know a little more about your self? Have you ever started a business? Do you know what it is like to put it all on the line or take risks? Do you support capitalism or socialism? All the new construction on North Street is Welfare Housing. Government tax dollars going to support people who don't pay taxes or create jobs. The city of Westbrook has been in the Welfare business for forty years. I don't like it! Our Government has no money but Westbrook still has it's hand out. Give me, Give me, Give me! I worked 21 hours Friday and opened my new business on saturday and put in 14 hours. Worked Sunday, Monday. I just got home at midnight. I will get up at six and go work my other business. This is the American Dream. If you work hard you might get something out of this life. Westbrook needs to stop putting up welfare housing and support capitalism! Take your kids to the park, love them and quit complaining!

sincerely,

Allen

Anonymous said...

Al-
Sounds like someone is tired and off the point. That said that bar has been their 80 years and the previous poster has been there 12. I live in the neighborhood as well and there are much bigger problems then a business. There are quite a few people doing illegal business in the neighborhood. The previous poster should be more conserned about all the drug users and needles all over the place then a licensed business. I've been to the Skybox several times and it's a great place to go and have excellent conversation, have a meal and unwind for the day. I see no problem with it in MY neighborhood it was there when I purchased my property and I personally live in the city so that I can walk around town for my entertainment, if I didn't want a bar in neighborhood I'd move to Windham. Thanks for taking on the challenge and promoting business. I personally appreciate your hard work and dedication. Thanks and I wish you the best.

skybox 212 said...

LOL, I think you may be right! My apologies.

Allen Moore

Skybox Bar & Grill

Larry B said...

I understand a business and making money. I have my own business service. But I don't think the argument is against anyone's right to run a business. Most people I talk to (college-educated, hard-working, intelligent) in the neighborhood don't want the bar there. It's an excuse to hang out in a seedy area that has a past (the previous bar at the same location, Andy's Tavern, was horrific. Someone was actually killed there). I think the first "Anonymous" has the right idea, move it to the right zone on Main Street and let's start cleaning up the neighborhood. People live here.

skybox212 said...

Larry,

I would like to invite you and your friends down to meet my wife and I. There are many great educated individuals that come to our establishment. Remember fear makes people to funny things. I am willing to bet you and your friends will have a blast. We have 10 TVS, two pool tables, three dart boards, pinball machine, Golden T, Ten taps, and great fried food. People are social at our place and the word seedy is nothing but an uneducated guess.

Send me an e-mail at admin@mooreconcretepumping.com I would love to get to know you.

Thanks,

Allen Moore

skybox212 said...

Another point I would like to mention is the fact the city's plan for the French Town community is more welfare housing. I personally believe in the long run this approach will plummet property values in our district. If allowed to further the agenda I predict a Kennedy Park or Sagamore village in twenty years. A Mixed use with business's is a more modern idea. A neighborhood pub is a great thing. Unless people can open their minds and try it on for size they are making uneducated guesses. I would like to see the old barbershop reopen. I thought a cool little Mexicali Blues may be interesting. My whole concept for the skybox was built around discovering acoustic songwriters and comics. Unfortunately council decision to Deni my entertainment license before I did anything wrong put a damper on my business plan. Johnny o wanted us to focus on anything but drinking and still refused my entertainment. So now play a lot of pinball!!

Bring our quarters

Lynn M said...

@Larry B: Trust me I would have considered that (a different location), had we only known but the city has never once tried to work with us AT ALL, whether it is making it work in that locations or moving it to another. With the stress, intimidation and harassment that we have received from all different departments of this city I would be open to anything but losing my 30K. We don't have it to lose, if someone wanted to STEAL 30K from you wouldn't you do everything in your power to ensure you got your money back?
When they gave us our licenses in the first place I thought they were going to give us a chance, but that is not the case. They have continued to spread lies and misinformation to bring us down, when we are reasonable people and would work with them 100%. I am shocked at how many different departments of this city would work in collusion to bring down anyone. In my world I try to build people up and support them. So if the city wants to seriously discuss us moving to another location and be willing to work with us on that move and stop the games then I will be more than willing to work with them. Just for the record we are nice, honest, hard working, intelligent people (we have references) don’t believe the lies and propaganda they are spreading unless you take the time to get to know us personally please.

Anonymous said...

As a "college-educated" person attending Graduate school in the Fall, I frequent the Skybox and have had nothing but positive experiences with a great staff, great patrons, and a safe environment. I would like to know what specific incidences have occurred causing this establishment to get a bad name, and how it "negatively impacts the neighborhood"?

skyboz212 said...

Our harassment from the city comes after three or four years of the same tactics towards the previous owners of the establishment. If they can't get you to quit they will try to publicly humiliate you. Westbrook Taxi, the Tattoo shop, Who know how many others just roll over? I spoke with a gentleman this afternoon who went through the same treatment from the city. We hope to see him at the meeting Monday to share his experience. The municipality is out of control! It is clear they have no authority over state issued licenses. Today's paper had an article about the Cactus Club. Now that is a place that has problems. Stabbings, Shooting, serving underage people and there still open. It would be nice to resolve our issues with the city but they are fixed in there mindset. This is going to cost the city a lot of money before it is over! People should call city hall and ask how much they have spent so far? I bet they won't tell you. Mention the Freedom of Information Act.

Skybox212

Anonymous said...

As a former employee, and a current friend of skybox, I would like to remind you all, that The Skybox, is Not Andys Tavern. The current owners have really taken the time to make skybox a place that is a safe place for all. They ensure that all of their bartenders are "Tips Certified" and are always observing the safety of all involved. On occasion that someone may venture into the skybox, 9 times out of 10 its someone from another area, the skybox is ready, willing, and eager to detain the situation before it does become a problem. I know first hand how the owners feel about having the police help "protect and serve" on the rare occasion that there services were needed. The ONLY time I have witnessed the police trying to "help" was a couple of weeks ago, when an officer ventured across the street from the corner of North and Brown, to explain to the owner how she needed to be aware of people that are NOT using the crosswalks! Does the skybox also really need to hire a crossing guard as well? Would the city even approve zoning for that? I know this all sounds rediculous, and it IS! The people that are complaining about the bars exhistance, have probably never even been into the establishment! I also have a family, therefore, I wouldn't move to that area because of the biggest issue and most importantly, is a major drug traffic area. Let our focus be on that! I can say firsthand that the skybox has a NO-Tolerance policy when it comes to drugs! Can you say that about the rest of the neighborhood? AL and Lynn are GREAT people, honest people, trying to make an honest living. They have poured their time, love and yes money into producing an establishment that is trying to do run an honest, and respectable business! Can you say that about the poeple on westbrook city council? Have they been honest at all in there intentions? They dont want to work for the people, they want to determine what SHOULD and should not be, doing anything in their powers to shut down the skybox from the beginning. They have NEVER tried to work with the Moore's, to find an alternative that works for all. The Moores have worked with the city, they have even changed there hours to close earlier @ night, helping this will detour "late night traffic" I would like to say Good luck to the Moore's, they are gonna need it, as the old saying goes "you can't fight city hall" Atleast they are fighting for what is right!!!

Anonymous said...

its in a place that needs demo!
the bldg is older than dirt and the apts above,make sect.8 housing look like plyboy mansions." we dont need no water let the MF'er Burn...burn MF'er BURN!

Anonymous said...

and maybe you should have looked into whom you were buying this bldg. from before hand. The previous owners did no upkeep what so ever to your housing above. For that kind of rent the Dores charged, There should have been a pool included. only to run out of oil in the dead of winter? Rumors of Bedbugs have been thrown around right inside your bar Allen.
If the greedy Dores couldnt make it last,dont know how you have managed thus far. good for you!

Anonymous said...

We are entering into our fourth year operating skybox. According to city officials we are doing a great job! We provide a fun friendly environment where people come in to play Pool, Pinball, Darts, Juke box, have a Drink and Socialize. Lately we have had some real great Rock N Roll Shows. I do however understand you can’t make everyone happy and nor should anyone try. I send you my best wishes for you and your negative comments. Cheer up, a sour grape attitude will do nothing but let strife into your life and keep you from being Gods Best.

Allen Moore