Questions over ownership of the town issued liquor license to and more than 10 violations of that license forced the Foxborough Board of Selectmen to continue its July 24th license transfer hearing with the function hall's landlord.
On Tuesday, the board is expecting answers to questions that were raised at that July meeting when the public hearing resumes at 7:20 p.m. during the Board of Selectmen meeting.
“We asked the owner (of the liquor license) to sort out their mess, pay their town obligations and hopefully come back to us with a clean application that addresses the concerns we raised,” Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis said of the situation that developed almost two weeks ago.
It was revealed during the July 24th public hearing regarding transfer of all alcohol restaurant license for Christina's Fireside Grille from MJ Holdings Corporation (current owner of license) to D&N Corporation DBA Nicholas Panagopoulos (the property's landlord) that the function hall had more than 10 liquor license violations over the past 12 years, according to attorney Louis Cassis, who represented the town of Foxborough during the hearing.
The violations were due to numerous changes in ownership of the license without authorization by the town and operating without a valid liquor license in the town as a result of those unauthorized changes.
Attorney Dean Plakias, who represents D&N Corporation DBA and Panagopoulos, notified the town of the violations made by MJ Holdings Corporation, who he does not represent, at the July 24 hearing. That information raised concerns to the board and Town Manager Kevin Paicos.
“Frankly, I don’t see how the board can responsibly transfer this license knowing that there could be financial gain for a president of a corporation (MJ Holdings) who acted in a fantastically irresponsible manner for over a decade,” Paicos said. “I think this needs a little more exploration and the proper facts need to be presented to the board. … This is the most unusual transaction I’ve ever heard.”
The board’s concerns centered on the liquor license changing ownership multiple times without any authority or notification.
“The amended petition given to us [at the July 24 meeting] shows MJ Holdings Corporation as the current licensee [of the liquor license],” DeVellis said. “The president [of MJ Holdings Corp] is Michael Intoccia. We were told that the corporation who was the licensee that was on record in the town changed over time and the town and the state was never notified, which is a requirement.”
DeVellis said it was unclear following the July 24 hearing how many times the liquor license changed ownership over the 12-year span and who the other owners of the license were during that time period.
“The Board of Selectmen and the town doesn’t know,” he said.
News of Christina's violations prompted Board of Selectmen vice-chair Mark Sullivan to suggest the town seize the liquor license.
“By all rights we should seize the license right now,” he said. “I think we are not doing our duty by not seizing the license."
Understanding that functions, primarily weddings, are still taking place at Christina's despite a recent change in management, Sullivan said those functions could be accommodated with a temporary liquor license.
"You can do temporary licenses for events," Sullivan said. "I say seize the license right now. … I don’t want to see brides and grooms crying but I’m being put on the spot here.”
In response to Sullivan's suggestion, Paicos reminded the board it could not take that action without providing proper notification and a public hearing to seize the license, which would likely take two weeks for that process to begin.
Instead, the selectmen opted to continue the hearing to Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 7:20 p.m. and give the involved parties two weeks to straighten out the issues and come back with answers for the board.
DeVellis said the board will continue to work with Panagopoulos and D&N Corporations to “come to the best solution” for Panagopoulos’ business and the town of Foxborough.
“The Board of Selectmen came to the table with an open mind to work with the property owner to come to the best solution so he can continue the business and hopefully honor commitments to the events that may have been booked,” DeVellis said. “We are not in the business to take back licenses or punish holders when they have not violated the license. The situation that is before us requires them to work hard at their time and expense to address their own issues so the license maintains its integrity.”
More Problems for MJ Holdings Corporation and Christina’s
In addition to the liquor violations, the town of Foxborough is owed nearly $9,400 by MJ Holdings for cost of police detail during events at Christina’s, according to town officials. Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary is pursuing that payment in criminal court, according to Paicos.
The town manager suggested at the July 24th hearing if the board ultimately decides to transfer the license from MJ Holdings to D&N Corporations, it should make a condition in that transfer that the money owed to the town for police detail is paid.
Plaikus noted at the last hearing that h\Panagopoulos has paid $20,000 in water bills and $84,000 in meals tax liability owed by MJ Holding already.
Paicos agreed that Panagopoulos has been “terrific” in working with the town to address outstanding payments but there’s still an undisclosed amount of money owed to the town that needs to be addressed.
The liquor license violations and outstanding payments owed to the town are just the latest of many issues that have come to light for Christina’s Fireside Grille since the function hall announced it was closing at the end of June and reopening “soon” under new management.
Despite the management and financial issues, Plaikus told the Board of Selectmen at the July 24th meeting that Christina’s is still holding functions, which included a wedding party of nearly 200 that took place on July 28. The function hall is reportedly honoring commitments it made to parties under previous management, according to Plaikus.
To read more Foxborough Patch articles related to Christina's troubles, click the links below: