By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s governing body is scheduled to decide next month whether to suspend the liquor license of the nightclub Fixx for up to 40 days for two recent closing-time melees, Mayor Pasquale Menna announced Wednesday night.
In addition, the borough was planning to notify the West Front Street bar’s owners on Thursday that they owe the town $33,000 for a tardy response to a fire code violation earlier this year, Administrator Stanley Sickels told redbankgreen.
Because the council will act as the equivalent of a jury at a hearing on alleged violations of state Alcohol and Beverage Control laws relating to brawls on September 22 and October 6, Menna and borough Attorney Dan O’Hern advised council members not to comment on the case.
But that didn’t stop neighbor Tony Busch Sr. from teeing up the bar, which has been the scene of two wide-ranging brawls in the past month. The most recent, early Sunday morning, required 25 cops from towns as far away as Keyport and Long Branch, as well as eight Red Bank cops, to quell.
“What’s going on here is tantamount to a terrorist attack,” said Busch, one of five homeowners living above the Work Out World gym next door to Fixx. “This is getting worse by the day. And it’s very tough for the town, because we’re not set up for a terrorist attack.”
Little Silver resident Kathleen Ann Gilson, who owns Fixx with her husband, Mike, attended the hearing, but left without comment before Busch spoke.
The hearing on the license issue was scheduled for November 13 at 6:30, though Fixx can request a postponement, Menna said.
In the meantime, Fixx can continue to do business, he told Busch during the public portion of the bimonthy council meeting. But “I can assure you that not only the police department but the fire department is monitoring the situation with a very high degree of sensitivity,” he said.
“We can’t just throw chains on the doors,” said Council President Art Murphy, who also serves as police commissioner. “This is the best we can do legally,” he added, before O’Hern advised him not to say any more about the case.
Sickels said the fire code violations arose from an inspection last spring that uncovered an inoperable device on the bar’s sprinkler system. The Gilsons requested and were granted a a one-month extension of time to repair the system, but failed to do so, incurring a $2,000 violation, he said. That triggered a $1,000-per-day fine until the fix was made, he said.
Sickels said the repairs were completed August 6, 31 days past the deadline, resulting in an additional fine of $31,000. He said the Gilsons could pay the fine or challenge it in municipal court.