The Foxborough Board of Selectmen agreed to transfer the all-alcohol restaurant license for Christina's Fireside Grille from MJ Holding Corporation to D&N Corporations DBA on three conditions:
- All police detail bills paid up to date
- All town attorney fees as a result of public hearing paid for
- D&N Corporation be held liable for all function/event deposits Christina’s has and is presented with to date
Christina’s landlord Nicholas Panagopoulos, of D&N Corporations, agreed to those conditions and gave the town of Foxborough a check for $9,376.40 – the full amount owed in police details required for previous events at Christina's – at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.
Selectmen voted 3-1 in favor of the transfer with conditions – chairman James DeVellis opposed the transfer while selectman Virginia Coppola was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
The transfer came after an over hour-long discussion at Tuesday's hearing, which was a continuation from July 24th after selectmen deemed the transfer application "a mess" and ordered the involved parties to spend two weeks to "sort everything out."
"Two weeks ago there was a hearing and a lot of information and the board determined the application for transfer was messy," DeVellis said. "So the board gave D&N Corporations and MJ Holdings two weeks to get together and work something out."
On Tuesday, the selectmen and D&N Corporations returned to the table to review what Foxborough special town counsel Louis Cassis called "an appropriate application" despite no agreement between MJ Holding and D&N Corporations.
"No one between MJ Holdings and D&N Corporations has reached an agreement," Cassis said. "There’s a court dispute over money. But that’s not an issue [the selectmen] are here to resolve. [The selectmen are] here to decide what to do with the license. [They] can either transfer the license or [they] can take action for violation of the license, which [they] really could not do until [they] give notice on that and a hearing."
Cassis said other than that, the application was "in order."
"I think the application before [the selectmen] is now correct," Cassis said. "The parties now transferring the license are now parties of record."
Town Manager Kevin Paicos said despite the problems these two corporations are facing with one another, the decision before the Board of Selectmen was a relatively easy one.
"This is a transfer application," Paicos said. "Regardless of the dispute happening between the parties, is Mr. Panagopoulos a suitable person to operate this liquor license? Are the premises proper premises to execute the liquor license? The answers are yes. The paperwork is appropriate. There are no grounds to deny it. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
"Unfortunately there are a lot of other issues with this rolling around but those are really not issues that the town can allow itself to become part of. It’s very unfortunate because you’d like to think the town could inject some settlement or justice here but you can’t. It’s not the board’s problem. You’re a licensing authority and you can only act on what’s in front of you."
But it wasn't that simple for the selectmen as members expressed concerns with the transfer.
"This is really so difficult for us because of the background problems that are going on here," said selectman Lorraine Brue. "My expectation [of this hearing] was from a legal perspective, the town be safeguarded from any concern in terms of transferring the license legally. ... I want to make sure business can continue and all those pending parties can be addressed."
Selectmen vice-chair Mark Sullivan and DeVellis expressed disappointment that in two weeks, not much other than the application has been corrected.
"I see the application part of it has been straightened out," Sullivan said. "We have no jurisdiction on the other part of it but for the record nothing has been straightened out."
"In two weeks, I’m a little disappointed that smart people can’t come together and say we are going to bite the bullet, it’s a business decision," said DeVellis. "We are going to go the extra mile and pay the police detail and reach out to past brides, which is an extremely emotional time for them."
Despite the board's concerns, the selectmen eventually took Cassis' and Paicos' advice to include conditions that must be met for the liquor license to be transferred to D&N Corporations and voted on the transfer.
Panagopoulos agreed to the conditions and the selectmen approved the transfer, 3-1.
Attorney Dean Plakias, who represents D&N Corporations, thanked the board for making a difficult decision.
"[The transfer] will allow this business to continue and I think that is in the public’s best interest and the town’s best interest," Plakias said.
Christina's Former Owners Speak at Tuesday's Hearing
Christina's former co-owners Chris Spinazolla, and his wife, Marjorie Clapprood, spoke at Tuesday's hearing to tell their side of the dispute with Panagopoulos and D&N Corporations and ask the Board of Selectmen to not approve the liquor license transfer because their names are on documents they had not seen or been apart of.
"We have not agreed to the liquor license transfer," said Spinazolla. "We are asking the board to deny the application. One of those reasons is because we never had any part in that application. We were not consulted, we had to come to Town Hall to get a copy of that application ourselves from the town manager’s office because we had no idea what was in that application."
Spinazolla added he and his wife have reputations at stake and are hopeful to stay in the function hall business after Christina's.
"We would like to be in this business somewhere down the road, it may not ever be in Foxborough frankly, and it’s going to take us a long time to recover from this financially," Spinazolla said.
Clapprood added the transfer application was "very tarnished” and she did not want herself or her husband to be associated with "the passage of the application."
Paicos wanted to publicly state that despite the business disagreement between Spinazolla, Clapprood and Panagopoulos, the three have excellent business reputations in Foxborough.
"It is unfortunate that the business has gotten to the point in which it has gotten," Paicos said. "I haven’t any idea how or why it got here. What I will say is that the Chris and Marjorie folks have a strong, outstanding reputation and that I hope that [reputation] has not been diminished by anything that has been said in these proceedings.
"I met with Mr. Panagopoulos Monday and he also has an absolutely impeccable and wonderful reputation as a business owner and is an extraordinarily responsible operator of the liquor license. He is as fine a gentleman as I’ve had the privilege of meeting in my life."
Log on to Foxborough Patch Friday for more from Christina's former owners.
Notes from Tuesday's Hearing
- DeVellis asked if the liquor license was valid in the light of potential violations regarding unauthorized changes in the license's ownership. Cassis said the license is "valid until you take action against the license. ... Licenses don’t become invalid because [the owners] do something wrong, you have to take action.”
- The potential violations were cleared as a result of the liquor license being transferred to D&N Corporations on Aug. 7.
- Panagopoulos has been a Foxborough resident for over 40 years and has operated under the business, D&N Corporations for over 30 years.
- Renovations at Christina’s will not have any impact on the functions. Renovations are taken place at the restaurant, according to Panagopoulos.