PAWTUCKET — A vacant Newport Avenue building that once housed a Chinese-style buffet will soon be taking on a new role as a sports pub.
On Wednesday, the City Council's Board of License Commissioners approved a Class A liquor license for MVP Sports Pub & Restaurant at 223 Newport Ave. Also on Wednesday, the City Council approved a victualling house license for the food side of the operation.
The owners, Christina and Michael Pate, told the board that they intend to operate a “family-style” restaurant and pub where people can come to watch sports and enjoy a lunch, dinner, or appetizers. They said their menu would offer sandwiches, salads, entrees and a variety of other “pub-style” food items, along with a kids' menu, and said the establishment would be something on the idea of Chelo's or Gregg's restaurants.
The Pates said the Fire Department had issued an occupancy permit allowing seating of up to 150 people and that they had plenty of parking in a rear lot. Christina Pate said she and her husband have owned and operated the Newport Avenue Pizzeria for the past seven years and have been partners in other restaurant operations
Michael Pate said he has been doing a lot of work to spruce up the property, with hopes of opening in early October. He said the hours of operation would be from 12 noon to midnight on weekdays and 12 noon to 1 a.m. on weekends. He also said there were no plans to offer live entertainment or hold functions.
During the public hearing on the license request, Diane Pullan, who said she lives directly behind the restaurant, told the board she was concerned about noise and traffic from patrons leaving the establishment and disrupting the residents of nearby Courtney Avenue. She also said she was worried about a large number of people smoking in the parking lot.
Additionally, the board acknowledged receiving a letter from another Courtney Avenue resident, Charles Robichaud, who listed a variety of objections to the request, including concerns about after-hours noise and parking problems. He also wrote that a “bar” type of establishment such as this would negatively affect the surrounding property values.
However, Councilor Christopher O'Neill, who represents the district, said he had gone over some of these issues with the Pates and was satisfied that the business would not be problematic. He said there are plans to erect a fence to encourage traffic to exit onto Manton Street and not Courtney Avenue, and that a designated smoking area would be created.
O'Neill noted that the large vacant building had become something of an eyesore and said he thinks the Pates' new operation “will improve the value of the whole neighborhood” while also being good for the city's economic development.
Councilor Albert Vitali agreed, saying that both he and O'Neill would be committed to making sure that the business fits in well with the surrounding neighborhood.
The liquor license was unanimously approved with the added stipulation that signage be placed on the fence directing traffic to exit on Manton Avenue to Newport Avenue.
In other matters, the Board of License Commissioners also voted to approve a Class A liquor license request for the expanded premises of Blackstone Wine & Spirits at 275 Newport Ave. The license covers 900-square feet of additional floor space that has now been added to the original floor plan due to the owners taking over the lease of the former Rita's ice cream shop.
Board members faulted the Blackstone Wine & Spirits owner Craig Power for doing construction in the new area without first seeking another liquor license request. Attorney Ryan Kelley said his client had not realized another public hearing was needed and apologized. He said this entire area will be used as a beer cooler.
O'Neill agreed that the owner should have come back before the board before doing the construction in the former Rita's space, but also complimented him on the improvements that had been made to the building, calling it “nothing short of spectacular.” The board approved the request 8 to 1, with only Councilor Mark Wildenhain voting in opposition.