April 27, 2013

Police check complaint about new Biddeford bar

The chief says police got a report of an underage patron being served at the controversial new saloon, which is owned by a city councilor.

BIDDEFORD – Police are looking into a complaint that a new bar on Main Street served liquor to an underage patron on its first day of business, a week after residents opposed its liquor license.

click image to enlarge

Fatboys Saloon is a new biker bar in located on Main Street in downtown Biddeford. Photographed on Friday, April 26, 2013.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Tracie Cyr is the bar manager at Fatboys Saloon, a new biker bar in downtown Biddeford. Cyr poses for a photo at the bar on Friday, April 26, 2013.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

The manager of Fatboys Saloon, which is owned by a city councilor, denies that anyone underage was served alcohol at the bar. She said Friday that she was unaware police were looking into any alleged illegal service.

Fatboys Saloon opened Wednesday, about a week after it got a positive recommendation for a liquor license from the City Council despite residents' objections about the business.

The chilly reception stemmed from concerns about a new bar that could attract more motorcycles downtown and the owner being issued summonses for code violations before it opened.

Fatboys Saloon's Facebook page includes photos of scantily clad bartenders on motorcycles on top of the bar, fueling residents' concerns that it is a biker bar. The owner and manager describe the saloon as an upbeat country bar.

The owner, City Councilor David Bourque, was issued summonses by the codes department after he held a private party at the bar on March 23, before an occupancy permit was issued. On April 16, he was issued a summons for displaying signs without proper approval. Each violation carried a $250 fine.

Tracie Cyr, the bar's manager, said she refused to serve one underage patron during the saloon's "soft opening" Wednesday night.

At one point, a young woman who appeared to be intoxicated tried to get into the bar. The woman was wearing a button and crown that declared it was her 21st birthday, but her ID showed she was only 20, Cyr said.

"She was not of age and I turned her away," Cyr said.

Police Chief Roger Beaupre said his department is looking into a complaint that an underage person was served at the bar. If an officer finds that happened, the bar will get an administrative summons that will be followed up on by the liquor license and compliance division of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Fatboys Saloon is at 61 Main St., across from a large brick wall commonly called the "Great Wall of Biddeford." That building, a former mill, is the proposed site of a restaurant and boutique hotel.

The row of buildings that includes Fatboys Saloon backs up to densely populated neighborhoods in the city's downtown core.

While liquor licenses in the city are typically approved without much fanfare, bars -- especially downtown -- occasionally attract more scrutiny. At the City Council meeting on April 16, people who spoke during a public hearing were split evenly in support of and against Fatboys Saloon.

Elements, another new bar on Main Street, recently got a liquor license with little fanfare. Elements -- a used bookstore/coffee shop by day and taproom/event space by night -- opened a few blocks away from Fatboys Saloon after winning a city-supported incentive contest for new businesses.

City Councilor Bob Mills, one of two councilors who voted against the liquor license for Fatboys Saloon, said he has concerns about the bar following rules because of its previous summonses.

"I'm not shocked at all," he said of the complaint about underage service. "The only thing I'm surprised about is it happened so fast."

Delilah Poupore, executive director of the Heart of Biddeford, said the nonprofit raised concerns about the approval of Fatboys Saloon's liquor license after hearing from residents and downtown business owners. Those concerns centered on the potential for noise from motorcycles and whether the business fits in with residents' vision for the future of downtown Biddeford.

During an extensive downtown master planning process in 2011 led by the Heart of Biddeford, residents said they envision a downtown with a family-friendly atmosphere, Poupore said.

Now that the business is open, Poupore said, "we would love to be able to work with the owner and see that part of downtown Biddeford truly benefit from Fatboys' presence there."

Tammy Ackerman, a downtown resident who runs an arts-related nonprofit on Main Street, spoke during the public hearing to express concerns about noise at a bar that appears to market itself to bikers. She lives next to another bar and said she has experienced the negative impact of noise.

Though she questioned whether Fatboys Saloon should be issued a liquor license, Ackerman said she doesn't want to pick on one business. Instead, she wants to encourage the community to have a conversation about growth and planning.

"I think everyone can agree that the Old Port (in Portland) is great fun to go out to and have a great time, but is that what downtown Biddeford wants to be?" she said.

Despite some residents' concerns about Fatboys Saloon, Cyr said the response from patrons has been "great." Customers tell her they like the wood floors and paneling, the tin ceiling and the large-screen TVs, she said.

Cyr described it as a country bar that could attract bikers, but said it isn't exclusively a "biker bar."

"We're a country bar. People definitely enjoy the atmosphere we have," she said. "We've gotten positive feedback about how it's a bar in Biddeford they're happy to be in." 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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