Waxy O’Connor’s co-owner Mark Rohleder admitted he was dumbfounded when he initially learned of the legal troubles surrounding his Foxborough pub during last May’s liquor license violation hearing and apologized Tuesday for the establishment's fourth violation in two years.
“The first thing I said to our attorney [after last May’s hearing] was, ‘I’m sorry, I had no idea what I was walking into regarding all the police incidents and issues with the bar,” Rohleder told selectmen during Tuesday’s liquor license violation hearing.
Foxborough’s selectmen suspended Waxy’s liquor license 10 days last May after the pub was found guilty to three violations – one overcrowding and two over serving. Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos warned Waxy’s at the time that a fourth violation would put the establishment “out of business.”
That fourth violation came on Sept. 27, 2012 after the pub failed an alcohol compliance check administered by Foxborough police. Waxy’s admitted during Tuesday’s liquor license violation hearing to serving a 19-year-old female operative a beer at the bar before presenting the town with a . After a lengthy discussion, selectmen agreed to accept the settlement, citing changes to the pub’s management and culture of the business.
“I think the changes that have been made are significant and are very different from the last discussion we had,” selectman Lorraine Brue said. “I think these suggestions really communicate a commitment on their part to do things differently.”
Chief among the pub’s changes was the removal of co-owner Gordon Hyde from the management team; a move Waxy’s attorney Frank Spillane said had to be done if the business was going to move forward.
“There has been a great change to how the establishment is running,” Spillane said. “The culture, especially. … The main issue was Mr. Hyde and he had to be removed from the establishment to move on. Ownership recognized that and it occurred around the same time as the violation this past September.”
Ironically, Rohleder said Waxy’s management team has an impeccable record with licensing authority, code compliance and food safety outside of Foxborough. The co-owner said he and his team saw the writing on the wall.
“We had to make changes,” Rohleder said. … “There was a lot of turmoil [and] it took awhile to get regrouped.”
In addition to Hyde’s departure, Spillane noted the pub’s shift in the business’ culture.
“Under the new management, the owners want to really emphasis the food,” Spillane said. “They want a restaurant with quality food. A new cook was actually hired about a year ago and they may be bringing on another cook to review the menu and service of the establishment. … They want to run a family, very community-oriented restaurant and not how it was run previously close to a nightclub.”
Rohleder apologized to the town of Foxborough Tuesday for past management losing sight of the community involvement, which has resulted in four liquor license violations in two years.
“We apologize to the community for the past and for what has happened at the moment and to the selectmen for being in front of you again,” Rohleder said. “I hope that you will see by some of our actions that we want to get back into the community. That’s where the life of every pub is. It’s not supposed to be a nightclub or whatever.”
Rohleder stressed the Waxy’s management team hopes to overcome its recent legal issues and continue its business in Foxborough.
“We are hanging in to go forward,” Rohleder said. “We are eager to get going. We don’t intend on going anywhere. We are talking about another chef coming in.”
As for the settlement selectmen agreed to Tuesday, Rohleder felt it was an appropriate punishment considering the offenses.
“We think it is a fair agreement,” he said.
Paicos said if it weren’t for the significant changes in management and the new direction of the business, Waxy’s liquor license would have probably been revoked on Tuesday.
“Had there not been a change of manager, a change of stockholders … had there not been all the other things put into place then this would have been a fourth violation and very likely would have resulted in revocation of the license,” Paicos said. “Based on my experience with the ABCC this would have been sustained.
“Frankly, with all the steps that have been taking here, the ownership is making a sincere effort to impose on themselves an offer that is a very substantial penalty to undertake a lot of substance of actions to try and operate a good business.”