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No Sidewalk Seating for Troubled Lowell Bar

July 11, 2018

LOWELL -- A downtown establishment that has faced suspensions and attracted attention from police will not have sidewalk seating this summer.

The City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday evening to deny a sidewalk seating license for Bar 74 outside 76 Merrimack St.

The Lowell Police Department delivered a negative recommendation, resulting in the unanimous denial from the council.

“The city and City Council should not be rewarding chronic bad behavior,” City Councilor James Milinazzo said.

At Tuesday’s meeting before the vote, Interim Police Superintendent Jack Webb elaborated on the rocky history at Bar 74, owned by Lauren DiSalvo. Webb also discussed the issues upstairs at Revolution, a club also owned by DiSalvo.

Most recently, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission suspended Revolution’s license for 74 days, with the bar serving a 22-day suspension while the remaining days are held in abeyance. The suspension will be served from Aug. 1-22.

The ABCC also suspended Bar 74′s license for four days, of which one day will be served on Aug. 1.

These suspensions come in the wake of a joint ABCC and Lowell Police Department sting on Feb. 2, in which investigators discovered nearly two dozen underage drinkers -- 22 at Revolution and one at Bar 74.

DiSalvo has stressed that the bars have new procedures in place to prevent this in the future. The bars hired an outside security company, which has retrained staff on detecting fraudulent IDs. In addition, the bars hired off-duty and retired police officers for security.

In May, the Lowell License Commission suspended Bar 74′s license for 10 days, the interim police superintendent also told the council. The bar had failed to display a liquor license and failed to notify the city when a former manager allegedly quit his job.

In addition, the hours of both establishments were cut back last summer after a 19-year-old woman was found passed out in a bathroom at Bar 74.

And earlier this year, the entertainment license of both bars was suspended for a day since a DJ kept playing music past 1:30 a.m.

“I cannot support this,” City Councilor Vesna Nuon said. “You do not award someone who is not compliant with the city.”

Revolution was previously the Mill City Ballroom and Brian’s Ivy Hall. Bar 74 was previously Mill City Suds and Finn’s Pub. The License Commission sanctioned those bars for a wide range of incidents.

City Councilor Dave Conway questioned how Bar 74 and Revolution remain open.

“You look at the history of these establishments and yet we still allow them to be in our city,” Conway said.

Travis Jacobs, lawyer for the bars, argued for the sidewalk seating. He emphasized that other establishments downtown have had violations, yet they still have outdoor seating.

“It seems to me the word is out in Lowell to attack this 100-percent woman-owned business and shut it down,” Jacobs said at the meeting before councilors cut him off, saying he was out of bounds with his comments.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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