TYNGSBORO -- Thirsty's was in trouble once again Monday night as selectmen reviewed a police report revealing the bar served alcohol past closing time in March to customers who were reportedly intoxicated.
Selectmen ordered a three-day license suspension for the bar, with two days in abeyance. The Parham Road locale won't be allowed to serve alcohol Friday, through July 5 at 1 a.m.
Owner Thien Dang and his daughter and head manager Tram Dang, spoke at the hearing Monday night to defend the business, which has been in Tyngsboro for four years. Tram Dang claimed the actions of one employee serving and drinking with four other customers March 16 at 3:10 a.m. was "beyond our control."
Previously, Thirsty's owners had their liquor license suspended for 11 days in 2011 for paying out cash to players of video-poker machines on-site. In 2010, the management came under fire for five reported liquor violations, which included posting to Facebook that customers could come in to drink until they "drop."
The bar's license was suspended for three days at that time, about nine months before Tram Dang was charged with littering in Pelham, N.H., and arrested in Dracut on an assault warrant a few days later. Around that time, Thirsty's faced a $25,000 fine from the town for erosion and flooding problems reported at the Thirsty's site.
Police Chief Richard Howe reviewed the most recent case before selectmen Monday night. In March, an officer found a bartender drinking with four customers past closing at 1 a.m. inside Thirsty's. Bars in Tyngsboro are not allowed to serve alcohol between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., and the license for Thirsty's says drink service must stop at 12:45 a.m., with the business to close by 1 a.m.
In the police report, an officer noted some customers with open Bud Lights were slurring their speech. This resulted in a second violation to Thirsty's for serving intoxicated persons.
As overseers of the town's approximate 13 liquor licenses, selectmen were tasked with reviewing the case and handing down punishment. Selectman Karyn Puleo said she didn't "like hearing at all" the Dangs' claim that the issue was out of management's hands.
Tram Dang told officials the bartender had been trained, and acted out of line in serving friends so early in the morning. Dang addressed officials while her father sat quietly next to her, stating the employee was suspended for her actions.
"There are always tools you can use as a manager. There's ways to stop this. You can have more training, better enforcement, surprise visits," Puleo told her. "Not every business has these types of issues."
The hearing was interrupted by a former employee of Thirsty's, Carrie Roy, who said she wished to make a statement. She told officials contrary to Tram Dang's claim the bar cameras were running that night, they were not working, and there was no way for management to monitor the bar's operations.
"I wanted to bring as much truth to this as possible," Roy said after the meeting.
Selectman Rick Reault said with numerous accusations coming forward Monday, it was clear at least one person in the room was not telling the truth.
He said the violations were serious and said he hoped the Police Department would continue to heavily monitor the establishment.
"It puts a burden on our Police Department that we don't need to have," he told the Dangs.
A liquor-violation hearing for Smokey Bones was also continued Monday night. The restaurant on Middlesex Road was accused earlier this year of serving alcohol to a customer younger than 21. An attorney representing the business said he didn't have enough time to review the case before Monday and selectmen voted to take the issue up at their next meeting in July.
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