The lights were off and the doors were locked Thursday night at the Fat Cat Bar and Grill on Springfield's Worthington Street where the owners are now facing some serious violations with the city license commission.
"Sub-leasing your premises without the permission of the commission and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) is a serious violation," said License Commission Chairman Peter Sygnator.
The commission alleges that the bar made false claims to show they had a fully licensed kitchen so they could benefit from an extended curfew.
"This stems from the requirement initially to provide evidence that you serve food for your entertainment license to be extended to 2 a.m.," Sygnator said
He says Fat Cat owners claimed they had a kitchen but really they weren't serving food, instead they were subleasing neighboring Brick City Pizza without the knowledge of the commission.
The penalty is a 15 day suspension on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the next five weeks.
They must also take neighboring Brick City Pizza off their license and provide evidence they have their own kitchen on premises.
Manager Shavone Gauthier and her attorney would not speak on-camera but told the commission Thursday night that business has declined, especially after November's natural gas leak explosion.
Since then, she says they've seen an 8 percent decline in business.
That's why license commissioner Raymond Berry was the only one who sided with the Worthington Street bar manager.
"I was more so concerned about the jobs, the individuals that put in their time, that work part time, full time and the impact that would have on those types of individuals," Berry said.
He calls the penalty harsh and potentially damaging to business and blames the problem on confusion, not deception.
"I think there was some sort of confusion in the way both licenses were set up," he said.
Under city laws, bars that serve food are allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., while all others can remain open but must shut off all entertainment at 1.
Fat Cat owners will meet with the license commission once again to meet their requirements on Jan. 24.
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