Thursday, August 11 2022

WHAT – As the Select Board mulls the transfer of Club Castaway’s alcohol and adult entertainment licenses, its latest discussion focused on the new owners’ inexperience in running a strip club.

At its Wednesday meeting, the board spoke with members of HC Entertainment LLC, the group seeking to regain ownership of the company on State Road (Route 5), and asked about their qualifications in running an adult entertainment business. HC Entertainment is seeking the transfer of the liquor license from current owner Whately Investments LLC and the issuance of a new adult entertainment license. Club Castaway’s adult entertainment license, issued in 2018, has no transfer clause.

Head bartender Paula Andrea, one of three HC Entertainment representatives present on Wednesday, said she has worked in the restaurant and nightclub industry for 15 years and receives advice from other business connections. business in Boston. In addition to Andrea, reps included partners Alexander Cwiakala and Harrison Bonner.

“Paula mentioned industry experience, it’s really the restaurant industry…it’s relevant to liquor licensing,” said Select Board member Joyce Palmer-Fortune. “I guess if you had experience in the adult entertainment industry, you would have said that already.”

The board is concerned about the owners’ experience of running the facility, as the city wants to prevent “inappropriate ownership,” according to board member Fred Baron.

Cwiakala and Bonner are co-founders of Wollaston Real Estate Investments, which primarily operates in Boston and Brockton, but Cwiakala noted that he manages 85 apartments in Springfield and Holyoke, and would buy a home in the area if he did. they could open the club. Attorney Tom Lesser of Lesser, Newman, Aleo & Nassar also attended as counsel.

Ahead of the hearing, Lesser told the Select Board his clients were “willing to meet” any special conditions the previous owners had on their permits.

Despite his inexperience, Cwiakala said his time in the property management industry gave him the skills to run a club.

“Although I’ve never run a bar as such, I’ve managed a lot of people. I personally put together a management team for our rentals,” he said. a slightly different place, I tend to find myself as a social person.”

Questions quickly moved to HC Entertainment’s security plan, which Police Chief James Sevigne said he had a brief discussion about.

Andrea said they were working with two consultants on employee safety and training, and these consultants would be invited to the next meeting.

“I would love to hear from your consultant at our next meeting,” Baron said. “Running an adult entertainment center in Whately is different than running a standard bar in Boston.”

Lesser referred to the general laws of Massachusetts and said the licensing authority — in this case, the Select Board — should grant a license unless it finds that the license would affect the “health, safety or Public Orders” of Whately, and said its customers receive the right training in the management of the establishment.

“Although they don’t have the experience,” Lesser said, “they will go through the training.”

If approved, Cwiakala said, the plan would be to undertake a “45-60 day overhaul” before opening at a later date.

“We’re ballparking somewhere in the summer to early fall,” he says.

Located at 226 State Road, Club Castaway, the only strip club in Franklin County, was purchased in 2019 by East Boston businessmen Nick Before the pandemic shutdown, the club was not opened under its new owner for only a few months, but Spagnola said in June 2021 the club was “working on a reopening plan”. An email sent to Spagnola on Thursday was not returned.

The public licensing hearing will continue remotely via Zoom on April 13 at 6:05 p.m.

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