Council rejects cops’ call to yank Bourbon St. licenses

188 Bourbon Street, part of The Pavilion function facility. (photo/Chris Busby)

Council rejects cops’ call to yank Bourbon St. licenses 
Votes to cut 90 minutes from “Ladies’ Night”

By Chris Busby

The Portland City Council rejected the police department’s request that it not renew liquor and entertainment licenses at 188 Bourbon Street last night. Instead, six of the nine councilors voted to limited entertainment at the troubled Middle Street nightclub on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The club can still serve alcohol until 1 a.m. throughout the week, but the music must stop by 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday.

The Old Port nightclub, which is part of The Pavilion function hall and catering facility, has been hosting a weekly “Ladies’ Night” on Wednesdays that could be affected by the council’s decision. From January to early December of last year, police documented 13 fights, 10 “general disturbance” calls, five assaults and several other incidents at the club – most of them on Wednesdays. 

Club owner Jim Albert said the council’s decision will compel him to change, and possibly discontinue, Ladies’ Night at Bourbon Street. The club has generally been hosting public entertainment on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

City Councilor Karen Geraghty joined councilors Will Gorham and Ed Suslovic in opposing the liquor and entertainment license renewals, saying Albert could simply move Ladies’ Night to Thursday, Friday or Saturday evenings. However, Albert indicated that he is now disinclined to host the popular dance night on any day of the week given the council’s action.

The 11:30 p.m. entertainment limit, suggested by Councilor Jim Cloutier, could effectively nix Ladies’ Night on Wednesdays since most patrons don’t arrive at the club until 11 p.m. or later. But as the opposing councilors noted, the limit on Bourbon Street’s ability to host music past 11:30 p.m. on some nights could just shift crowds, and the violence that accompanies them, to other Old Port clubs. 

Albert had also sought to host after-hours entertainment at Bourbon Street until 3 a.m., but councilors unanimously rejected that request. They voted 8-1 (with Gorham opposed) to allow the facility to use an outdoor seating area. Albert said that seating has been used for banquet functions, not the nightclub. 

Gorham asked Albert why he had indicated on his latest liquor license application that he had not been convicted of any crimes aside from minor traffic offenses. Albert has several convictions on his record, including two assaults, a conviction for evasion of registration fees and excise taxes, and a conviction for driving to endanger.

Albert said he had thought the question on the application pertained to managers at the club, not the applicant, and said he has since contacted the city clerk’s office to correct the application.

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