BREWER, Maine — The owner and manager of the Evolve Club & Pub, a lounge attached to The New Stable Inn at 448 Wilson St., does not have a liquor license because they applied for the wrong license, a state official said.
“They applied for a hotel,” Jeff Austin, licensing and compliance supervisor for the Maine Department of Public Safety Liquor Licensing and Inspection Division, said Tuesday. “It’s not a hotel.”
The Evolve is proposed for the old Hitching Post lounge location, which the city closed in July 2008 after the former operator failed to teach his employees to identify alcohol overconsumption.
“We didn’t deny them,” Austin said. “We just couldn’t do anything with the application, and there was no fee [included with the application]. We couldn’t do anything.”
On the state’s liquor license application, which the City Council approved at its Dec. 8 meeting, Evolve owner Randy Drake, of Concord, N.H., clearly marked “hotel” under the type of license, when he should have marked “Class A lounge.”
“That’s what the town approved: a hotel license,” Austin said. “Basically the application just didn’t qualify, especially without a fee. It was sent back with the applicant to resubmit and take it to the town” for the correct approval.
When the applicant returns with the proper lounge liquor license application, he must bring a $2,210 check with him, which is the fee for the state to processes the application, he said.
The council approved the license application Drake submitted, with the condition that the owner meet all city and state requirements before the pub opens. During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Linwood S. “Scott” Feeney, whom Drake hired to manage the lounge, gave an overview of the planned pub and answered city officials’ questions.
His name was not listed on the city’s liquor license application, instead the letters “N/A” are written in the spot for the manager’s name.
This did not pass state scrutiny, Austin said, pointing out that Feeney’s name should have been listed on the application since he identified himself as the manager during the City Council meeting and is the one who delivered the liquor license paperwork to Augusta.
A background check was done on Drake, and nothing notable was found, but no check was done on Feeney, who has some operating under the influence and other convictions on his record, according to Bangor Daily News archives.
Feeney was sentenced in Penobscot County Superior Court in July 1999 to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay $62,500 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to misusing state restaurant taxes from his ownership of the Lemon Tree in Bangor, and failing to file Maine state income taxes.
Councilor Joseph Ferris said after the Dec. 8 meeting that he did not know about Feeney’s past convictions and that he would have liked to have known about his criminal history before voting on the liquor license application.
Tena Kroll, the city’s deputy code enforcement officer, said Tuesday that the city has granted Drake an occupancy permit for the bar, but “they have to come in and pick that up.”
Attempts to reach Drake on Tuesday using the number he listed on the liquor license application were unsuccessful.
What happens next is up to the applicant, Austin said. Whether they will be charged for a second public hearing, which costs $450 and is required for liquor license applications, is unknown, City Clerk Howard Kroll said Tuesday, saying he has not yet been given a direction by state or local officials.
“This city approved a liquor license for what they applied for,” he said. “They can’t get a liquor license unless the state approves it.”