Despite four liquor license violations in less than two years, Foxborough’s Board of Selectmen agreed Tuesday to a settlement that would allow Waxy O’Connor’s to continue its business in town – but not without penalty.
As part of the settlement agreement, Waxy’s liquor license has been suspended 16 days, beginning Wednesday, Jan. 23 and lasting through Thursday, Feb. 7. The suspension includes no alcohol service on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3).
In addition to the suspension, the Main Street pub will also gift the town $2,000 in legal fees and $8,000 in police/public safety training.
The above conditions were part of a 17-point settlement agreement presented by Waxy's attorney Frank Spillane, who also serves as Foxborough's Town Moderator. Other conditions of the agreement include:
- Waxy’s forfeits the right to appeal the board’s decision to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC)
- The pub will maintain a functioning electronic identification scanner on-site and develop written policies for use of scanner.
- All servers will be TIPS certified and all employees will undergo in-house training on Waxy’s rules and procedures for serving alcoholic beverages. These trainings will take place in April 2013, October 2013, April 2014 and October 2014.
- Waxy’s will meet with the Board of Selectmen on March 5 to provide the town a status conference regarding the pub’s compliance with the settlement agreement and terms of the license. Following that meeting, Waxy’s will submit to the Board of Selectmen, Foxborough’s town manager and police chief a written status report detailing the pub’s compliance with this agreement and the terms of the license on June 1, Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.
To view the settlement agreement in its entirety, view the PDF file in the photo gallery above.
Because Waxy’s admitted to a fourth violation of its license, selectmen had to decide whether to pursue a revocation of license hearing or review the proposed settlement for suspension. The board, with the exception of chair James DeVellis, opted to work towards a settlement, citing significant changes to management and policies as reasons for their decision.
“I would suggest suspension rather than revocation and suggest we go in that direction,” Brue said. “I think the changes that have been made are significant and are very different from the last discussion we had. I think these suggestions really communicate a commitment on their part to do things differently.”
The most notable change in management since the series of violations in 2011 was the removal of Waxy’s co-owner Gordon Hyde from the management team. Hyde was said to have operated Waxy’s more like a nightclub rather than a pub during his time with the establishment.
“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.”
Other changes include revamping its security and changing the business direction of the pub.
“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.”
Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary added from a public safety standpoint he has seen a positive change in the establishment since the 2011 violations.
“In terms of cost of service for the facility, there is a noticeable decrease in incidents that are occurring, which were radically escalating the last time this facility was before the board,” O’Leary said. “To me, it is evident there is a better, good faith effort under the new management team to manage the facility and to bring about significant changes.”
Other board members agreed with Brue that these changes show a commitment to compliance of the license moving forward.
“I agree with Lorraine because Mr. Hyde is no longer part of the picture with this corporation,” said Foxborough Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan. “I think he was a significant problem in the past with not understanding the laws of Foxborough and I don’t think the people that are now operating the business should suffer the degree of consequence that we could put down here because they weren’t totally aware of the situation. I’m surprised to hear myself say this, but I’m willing to try and work with these people one last time.”
Brue admitted she was also surprised by her decision.
“I’m surprised to hear myself saying this but I am leaning towards [suspension and not revocation],” she said.
Selectman Lynda Walsh agreed with her colleagues but warned Waxy’s management that the board's decision should not be taken lightly.
“You know how seriously we take it and you folks have got to take it as serious as a heart attack,” Walsh said.
DeVellis was the lone board member who had no interest in discussing a settlement, citing the board’s three-strike policy regarding liquor license violations.
“For the two-and-a-half years or so that I’ve been here we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time on Waxy’s,” DeVellis said. “Our regulations were completely revamped and if you look at our regulations it says fourth violation is revocation of license. … We’ve done everything we can to work with them and we are still [holding these hearings].”
DeVellis added that the 19-year-old underage operative who assisted police in the Sept. 27, 2012 compliance check "looks like she is 16" and should not have been served alcohol.
“I don’t think they are any closer to getting it then they were in June, July and August,” DeVellis said. … “When you look at the underage operative, she looks like she’s 16. She sits at the bar and they give her a beer. … How many times are we going to say one more time? We are [on a fourth violation now].”
Despite DeVellis’ opposition to the settlement, the remainder of the board moved forward, voting 4-1 to forgo revocation and begin discussions towards a settlement.
After a lengthy review of the terms of the agreement, the board voted unanimously to accept Waxy’s settlement proposal.
“I hope this business is successful and can turn its way,” DeVellis said. “I commend attorney Spillane for jumping in. I think [he] is putting his neck out on this one [representing Waxy’s].”
Spillane admitted that when Waxy’s management first came to him for representation he declined but after speaking with Waxy’s co-owner Mark Rohleder he agreed to work with them through this hearing.
“I believe they are very committed to turning this around,” Spillane said. “I think this is a very good start. They are scheduled to come back here on March 5 to talk to you and provide status reports. They should keep close contact with Chief O’Leary.”
How Waxy’s Failed the Sept. 27, 2012 Compliance Check
Foxborough police Sgt. Richard Noonan told the board at Tuesday’s hearing that at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2012 the underage female operative (19 years old) and an undercover police officer from Stoughton entered Waxy O’Connor’s to administer an alcohol compliance check.
Noonan said the underage operative was sitting at the bar for a few minutes without any acknowledgement from the bartender prior to being served.
“An older gentleman two seats from the underage operative obtained the bartender’s attention,” Noonan said. “The bartender came over and asked the underage operative what she wanted and the bartender subsequently served her a Bud Light bottle without asking for identification. The underage operative sat there with the Bud Light bottle in front of her for approximately one minute. She pulled the beer closer to her and then left.”
Noonan said the undercover police officer confirmed everything the underage operative reported. Spillane told selectmen that Noonan’s facts in the police report are accurate and Waxy’s admitted to the violation. The bartender was fired by Waxy’s following the violation.
Six Establishments Failed Sept. 27, 2012 Compliance Check
Waxy’s was one of six Foxborough establishments to fail the Sept. 27, 2012 compliance check. Below is the board’s ruling on the other six establishments:
- Six Foxborough Establishments Face Liquor License Violation Hearings in November
- Bar Louie’s Liquor License Suspended 5 Days for Serving to Minor
- CBS Scene Hit with 3-Day Penalty for Serving Alcohol to Minor