Thursday, August 11 2022

WHAT – As the Selectboard 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 a non-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 the liquor license,” said Selectboard member Joyce Palmer-Fortune. “I guess if you had experience in the adult entertainment industry, you would have said that already.”

The council is concerned about the owner’s experience running the facility, as the city wants to prevent “inappropriate ownership”, according to Selectboard 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 Selectboard his clients were “willing to meet” any special conditions the previous owners had on their licence.

Despite his inexperience, Cwiakala said his time in the property management industry gave him the skills to manage 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 had worked with two different 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 general Massachusetts laws and said the licensing authority — in this case, the Selectboard — should grant a license unless it finds the license would affect “health, safety or Public Order” of Whately and said his clients received the proper training to run 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, Franklin County’s only strip club, was purchased in 2019 by East Boston businessmen Nick Spagnola and Julius Sokol, and has been closed since the Governor Charlie Baker’s March 2020 emergency order shut down non-essential businesses. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, the club had only been open under its new owner for a few months, but Spagnola said in June 2021 that 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.

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.

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