ORONO, Maine — Citing what it believed to be a pattern of violent incidents, inconsistent restaurant hours, overcrowding and overserving, the Town Council voted Monday night against recommending a liquor license for Rob Snow, who operates 103 Ultra Lounge on Park Street.
The council now has 10 days to file with the state an explanation of its 6-1 vote, council Chairman Geoff Gordon said. The vote is only a recommendation to the state, but Snow, who employs 25 people at the bar-restaurant-club located across the street from the University of Maine’s Route 2 entrance, was pessimistic the state would go against the council.
Snow’s current liquor license expires Feb. 27.
“It’s hard to work so hard on something, and to try to make it better, and not have [the council] see it,” Snow said, after the council vote, of his efforts to improve security and other issues. “I can still approach the state about approving [the license], which never happens.”
Snow, who does business as RI Snow Co. LLC, said he is three years into a five-year lease of the building. The building’s owner is listed on Snow’s license application as Albenco Inc. of Old Town.
Judy Sullivan was the only councilor to vote in favor of approving the liquor license.
The council unanimously approved Snow’s application to renew his special amusement and victualer’s licenses. The lounge has become known for hosting entertainment acts from outside the area and draws an 18-and-over crowd some nights, which Snow’s license permits as long as underage clientele is kept away from areas in which alcohol is served.
The license also requires Snow to make food available for sale at all times.
In a report submitted to the council, Police Chief Gary Duquette stated police responded on 45 occasions to incidents from March 2009 to the end of January 2010. That number was down from around 70 the previous year.
“I don’t care if there were 100 incidents,” Duquette said. “What I care about is what those incidents are.”
Some of them, according to the report, resulted in assault and theft charges, summonses for illegal possession of liquor by a minor by consumption, and a complaint about possible unlawful sexual contact.
Councilor Mark Haggerty said he didn’t feel the facility was being managed safely after several years of similar incidents.
Snow was granted his license last year only after presenting a plan to mitigate some of the problems.
“Foremost I think there’s a continued pattern of violence, excessive drinking, I guess mismanagement of the facility, overintoxication,” Haggerty said. “Most of the [changes Snow agreed to make] have not been successful. That’s a problem.”
Gordon voted against recommending the license because, he said, it didn’t appear Snow is operating the on-site restaurant at all times when alcohol is served. Snow said that on the nights the establishment is open, staffers serve food if requested and keep the kitchen pilot light lit. In his report, Duquette said his officers were able to eat a full meal on a recent Monday night, but the restaurant appears not to be open on a regular basis.
The council considered in 2009 revoking Snow’s victualer’s and special amusement permits because he was facing charges stemming from the compliance check in March during which investigators found overcrowding and a blocked exit. Snow was charged, but he said Monday those charges had been dropped. He also was cited for issues including failure to offer food and allowing visibly intoxicated people to remain on the premises.
Snow’s licenses were not revoked. As a result of the charges, however, to which Snow admitted guilt in the form of a consent decree, he was subject to a fine and a nonconsecutive 14-day suspension of his liquor license. The capacity of 103 Ultra Lounge was cut from 526 to 440 as a result of the compliance check, Snow added Monday.