LONG BRANCH — Reddy’s West End Bar and Grill and Hooligan’s Bar and Restaurant remain open — for now.
Both establishments’ liquor licenses were set to expire, and both have unpaid fines and public safety code enforcement issues. At last week’s City Council meeting, both were granted temporary license extensions until July 10.
"Since both proprietors didn’t have counsel available, we thought it would only be fair to grant a temporary renewal," said James Aaron, city attorney, and a partner in the Ocean Township law firm Ansell, Zaro, Grimm and Aaron.
According to Lou Napoletano, director of public safety, Hooligan’s has a lot to do before getting a full renewal.
On June 16, a Saturday, Napoletano said he witnessed hundreds of kids inside and outside Hooligan’s, which is on Broadway across from city hall, for a battle of the bands concert.
"Upon entering the establishment, we arrested two 20-year-olds for underage drinking," he said. In addition, two bartenders received summonses for not being in possession of their ABC cards.
The bar was shutdown for approximately an hour during which Napoletano said more IDs were checked, resulting in a head count of 170 patrons of all ages inside with an additional 100 people outside. The bar was cited for two counts of serving alcohol to people under the legal drinking age.
But according to Richard Carrano, the operator of the bar, he was never given a summons. He said that the shutdown has hurt his business.
"The promoter I use was afraid that we would get shutdown again and canceled a concert," he said.
Carrano also explained that the city is suing him for approximately $279,000 relating to unpaid fines for not having a certificate of occupancy for the two apartments above the bar. "I don’t understand why I would get fined, I haven’t had tenants in those apartments for two years," he said.
Fire Official Kevin Hayes paints another picture. In April 1999 Hooligan’s was cited for 16 fire code violations. Some of the violations included wires hanging from sprinklers and the overuse of extension cords. "We are concerned that the public is safe," said Hayes. He noted that several of the violations that led to the summonses have been corrected, but were disregarded for such an extended period of time that the fines added up.
Penalties were assessed from March 2000 to June 2001, adding up to $250,000. "We could have charged him for each violation but instead we lumped them together, which gave him a break," said Hayes.
Carrano maintains that he has always run a clean, safe environment and takes precautions to make certain that those entering are of age. "This is my fourth year in business," he said. "I am here seven days a week and 18 hours a day to ensure everything is run properly. I think the authorities went overboard in their actions."
He said he intends to fight what he feels is unjust treatment and has hired an attorney, Tom General, to fight for his liquor license.
As for Reddy’s West End Bar and Grill, on Ocean Avenue, its nightclub was shutdown for not having a sprinkler system, underage drinking and exceeding its safe crowd capacity. The mayor and council will hear a report on whether or not the bar has complied with safety and fire code ordinances at the next meeting.
"So far, 99 percent of the required sprinkler system is complete," according to Hayes.
Reddy’s needs to have a sprinkler system hooked up to the alarm system. Bill Dowd, a Red Bank attorney, will be representing Reddy’s in the hearing on the other matters.
A third bar, Club La Isla, located just off Third Avenue behind J.J. Newberry’s, was renewed after complying with several conditions. According to police Lt. Patrick Joyce, the bar has been the site of fights, robberies and other misconduct, and has been a real problem in the last year.
The club has installed surveillance cameras and has agreed to deposit $4,000 into a revolving fund which would pay for off-duty officers to maintain security there.
According to Aaron, these conditions must remain for the duration of the license or until the proprietors can show proof that the surveillance equipment is curbing the disturbance complaints.