Bath pub owner mulls suing town after liquor license renewal denied

Posted June 18, 2012, at 3:42 p.m.

BATH, Maine — Greg Tisdale, the owner of the Black Barnacle Pub on Front Street in Bath, said Friday that he has contacted an attorney about filing a civil suit against the city of Bath after the City Council on Wednesday voted against renewing his liquor and entertainment licenses.

Tisdale said neighboring business owners and other representatives of downtown businesses told the council that his patrons were responsible for noise, swearing and other unpleasant behavior, but the bar owner argued that his establishment has had no more police calls than another bar just down the street.

“There were so many lies fabricated [at the council meeting], you just can’t believe it,” Tisdale said. “They had no documentation, no proof and no evidence that [the trouble] was caused by my patrons — not patrons of [J.R.] Maxwell’s, not the Riverside [Sports Pub] … they just automatically blamed it on me.”

But Skip Taylor, whose business, Winter’s Gone Alpaca Fashions, abuts the Black Barnacle, said Friday that when he moved in nearly two years ago, the Black Barnacle had just opened.

“I had some real reservations about being next to a bar but [the landlord] assured me it wasn’t going to be your typical bar. It was going to primarily be a little pub to have sandwiches and trendy micro-brew beers. Well … after moving in, it turns out it was a full-fledged bar with not much food,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he has had a number of problems with people who he identified as patrons of the Black Barnacle. Among the problems have been loud swearing, cigarette butts left in window boxes and vomit on the front steps of his business.

He said he does report such incidents to the police, “but by the time the police get there, the incident is over.”

The Black Barnacle and J.R. Maxwell’s show approximately the same number of calls for service from the Bath Police Department — seven — during the last 12 months, Bath Police Lt. Stan Cielinski said Friday.

Three of the seven calls to the Black Barnacle were self-reported, Cielinski said.

Taylor said he wrote a letter to the City Council detailing his ongoing problems with the Black Barnacle and informing councilors that “if we couldn’t get it resolved, we would certainly not renew our lease and we would be gone.”

Taylor said he doesn’t want to see another business closed, noting, “That goes against my grain as an entrepreneur, but this is a bigger issue. It’s starting to have an effect on Main Street Bath … which prides itself on being one of America’s top Main Streets, and a cool little city … and it’s actually getting to be like a Saturday night in the Old Port in Portland.”

Tisdale said he monitors video cameras installed in the bar, and that his manager and bartender are proactive and capable of handling any trouble. He said he gave Taylor his cellphone number and told him to call if the bar patrons cause any trouble.

Tisdale said the council “just ignored me. They didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. I’m really getting raked over the coals. They just don’t want a pub on Front Street.”

Tisdale’s licenses are due to expire on June 27.

City Council chairman David Sinclair could not be reached for comment by press time.

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