PAWTUCKET — Despite a name like “Rebels,” Jeanne Michaud says she wants to attract a more peaceful clientele to the Smithfield Avenue bar that is currently known as Corina's Pub.
Michaud, of Uxbridge, Mass., appeared at a public hearing on Wednesday before the City Council's Board of License Commissioners to speak about her request to obtain a transfer of liquor and food licenses. She told the board that she plans to lease the existing space to operate a pub, featuring live music, with her daughter.
Michaud, who said she previously owned several restaurants, said she wants to highlight local musical talent in the alternative rock or classic rock genres. “We're trying to get away from what it was. We're trying to be a different kind of lounge,” she stated. She noted that she is “not a 20-year-old kid,” and said she expects the changes in the business format to attract an older, less rowdy crowd than what typically frequented Corina's Pub.
As several councilors noted, Corina's Pub, under its previous ownership, had its share of problems in recent years, including complaints and violations for disorderly conduct, noise, and crowd control issues. In December 2011, a male patron of the pub was the victim of a brutal knife assault by three other men that occurred just outside its doors. As such, the licensing board had imposed a stipulation last February requiring the hiring of a police officer in a marked car to be stationed outside the bar every Friday and Saturday night from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Michaud told the board she has added more tables and chairs to her floor plan, which resulted in the city's fire marshal lowering her seating capacity to 72. Yet, she said the bar could hold up to 150 patrons if a number of tables and chairs were removed for a special event.
Councilors asked Michaud about the number of available parking spaces, and she said the bar had nine. However, she said she had spoken with a neighboring property owner about the possibility of leasing additional spaces, and also noted there were other parking lots and on-street parking spaces nearby.
In regard to the parking concerns, Michaud noted that there had been a bar at that location for 56 years. However, Councilor John Barry pointed out that this had historically been a neighborhood bar, where most patrons lived close by and walked. He expressed concern about the parking situation if the bar draws larger outside crowds.
Referring to Corina's Pub's “tumultuous history,” Councilor Jean Philippe Barros asked Michaud what she planned to do for security. She said she intended to have “bouncers” on the staff, including someone stationed at the door to check patrons' identification. Her daughter, Emily, also told the board that she had been a bartender for 10 years and would be managing the operation along with her mother. “What Corina's was, Rebels will not be,” Michaud stated.
Michaud went on to tell the board that she wanted to have the license stipulation removed that requires a police detail on the weekends. She cited the added expense of such a detail and said that, as a new owner, she thought she should be given a chance to prove herself, perhaps for a six-month trial period. She added that if people see a police officer parked outside “What is that doing for my business?”
However, Councilor Timothy Rudd, whose district includes Corina's Pub, firmly informed Michaud that the stipulation for the police detail will stay on the license. He noted that because of the location, some of the same patrons will still be coming in, and said a police presence can reduce the likelihood of trouble.
Barros questioned Michaud about the bar's moniker, saying that while she spoke of wanting a more laid-back environment, “the name 'Rebels' suggests something else.” Michaud laughed and said the name was one of several suggestions that had been drawn out of a jar, and that it lent itself to a winged logo design that she liked.
Saying he wanted to hear more about Michaud's parking plan and other factors, Rudd asked for a two-week recess so the public hearing can be continued to the board's next meeting on March 20.
Also continued to the March 20 meeting was the board's decision on a temporary entertainment license request by Lori's Little Lambs Christian Day Care to shut down a portion of Dexter Street on Saturday, May 28 to hold a “Praise Fest” Community Outreach Concert at 210 Dexter St.
The request was made to close Dexter Street from the corner of Barton Street down to 279 Dexter St (Loiselle Insurance) from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. A spokeswomen for the day care said she had obtained permission from the business owners who would be affected by the temporary street closure.
However, several councilors expressed concerns about traffic flow and public safety by closing a stretch of such a busy street. Rudd, also the district councilor for this applicant, said that while he agreed with the concept, he would rather see the event held in an off-street location such as a big parking lot. He said he suggested this to the applicant and thinks that discussions are underway to find an alternative site. As such, he suggested the two-week postponement on the request.
The board approved requests to sell alcoholic beverages in the parking lot on Sunday, Mar. 17 from Thomas Brennan of the Celtic Pub, 755 Broadway, from noon to 12 a.m., and Robert Connor, of Sullivan's Publick House, 572 Armistice Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Also approved was the transfer of automobile repair and second hand shop licenses for Teto Motor Sales Inc. from 172 York Ave. to 31 Congress St.