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Board approves new bar with some hesitation

Date: 11/3/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The Board of License Commissioners faced a problem at its meeting on Thursday: either approve a new alcohol license for a bar at a location on Worthington Street now vacant or follow Mayor Domenic Sarno's standing recommendation of only approving new businesses for the entertainment district that also serve food.

The board voted four in favor -- with one abstention -- of the granting of a new all alcohol license to GOS LLC, the owners of the proposed Arturo's at 296 Worthington St.

Jennifer Santos, the co-owner of First and Ten, the sports bar next door to the location, explained she wanted to bring a dance club back to the location. Although Santos serves food at First and Ten, she said the space at the new location was too small to add a kitchen.

"It's too costly to make it a mini-caf ," she said. The occupancy for the space is only 99 people.

The new dance club would have a deejay rather than live music and would feature themed music nights. The music would be selected to appeal to an audience between the ages of 21 and 45 and the club would be open Thursday through Sunday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Music from the 1970s, '80s as well as disco were discussed as theme nights.

When Commissioner Juan Rivera asked Santos if the music selection would change to what proved profitable, she said that while she hoped to maintain the format, "but if it's not profitable, we change it."

"That is something I can not predict," she added.

"This puts us in an awkward position," Peter Sygnator, the chair of the board, explained to Santos. "We are trying to encourage restaurants on Worthington Street. The restaurants are closing because of the perceived danger in downtown."

Santos added she believed part of downtown's problems could be attributed to how other establishments have been managed.

Sygnator noted there have been no problems at Santos' other business and asked if there were a dress code for the new dance club as part of its security plan. Santos and her attorney drew one up during the rest of the board's meeting and the dress code was made as a condition of the license.