|Late Night Party Earns Tito's A Warning From Licensing Board|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:01PM / Tuesday, March 26, 2019
|The Licensing Board ultimately agreed to cut the restaurant some slack.|
Attorney Jeffrey Scrimo opened his remarks by extending an apology to the board and the Police Department from the owners of Tito's for the violation.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board is giving Tito's Mexican Grille a warning after employees held a late-night party inside the establishment.
According to Police Capt. Michael Grady, officers were called to the Depot Street restaurant just before 3 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, for a disturbance.
Upon arrival, officers didn't find a disturbance outside but could see about a dozen people inside drinking and music playing.
Officer Michael Schilling got the attention of those inside and Anibal and Benjamin Caratachea told Schilling they owned the restaurant and were having a private party.
The Police Department reported to the Licensing Board two potential violations of licenses: serving alcohol after hours and violating the entertainment license.
Attorney Jeffrey Scrimo, who represented the restaurant, urged the Licensing Board for leniency. He said the Caratacheas had only recently arrived in the area, though having restaurant experience elsewhere, and were thrust into management positions when the current manager got ill and needed surgery. He said the two weren't up to date with Massachusetts liquor license laws at the time of the incident.
He said the two are planning to eventually purchase the restaurant but that's not immediate.
"They are here working as employees with the goal of purchasing the business and taking it over," Scrimo said.
The manager on record, Ashley Larkin, has not had any violations of the liquor license, Scrimo said, and she was unable to be at the restaurant because of illness. That put Benjamin Caratcheas in charge and employees had stayed after work that night for a get-together.
"They were celebrating to some extent but not a wild party," he said.
Schilling agreed that it was "fairly quiet" when he arrived despite being called for a noise violation. He said music could be heard but not overwhelmingly loud.
That led Licensing Board member Dennis Powell to wonder who called the police to report a disturbance.
Licensing Board member Richard Stockwell noted the two license violations but added that Caratacheas telling police they owned the restaurant was the most egregious aspect of the incident. He admonished the Caratacheas for providing false information.
Thomas Campoli said that while there is no discipline now, the incident will be on the record.
"If your clients are here to purchase Tito's, as far as I'm concerned, they started off on the wrong foot," Stockwell told Scrimo.
Stockwell further pressed on an advertisement he's heard for the restaurant saying it was under new management.
But, the city hadn't received any paperwork to switch the license to another management company. Tito's officials all reported that they did not know about that advertisement and that management has not been changed.
Member Thomas Campoli also clarified that the laws read that no alcohol can be served after hours, not just can't be sold. The Caratacheas apparently told police that the drinks weren't being sold but instead given to those in attendance for free.
"Management has really got to be on site and this is one of the reasons why," Campoli said of ensuring that there is proper oversight of the license.
Larkin said she will be returning to the restaurant full-time next week. Benjamin Caratachea has since become TIPs (Training for Intervention Procedures) certified and is still heading the establishment until she returns.
The board ultimately agreed to cut the restaurant some slack. But the incident is being kept on record in case there is another violation in the future and would be factored into any potential discipline then.
"It is one of those things we can't have happen again. We can't have service after 2 a.m.," Grady said.