By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A new private club is in trouble with the city’s License Commission, which is watching the club to make sure it follows the rules.
Commission Chairman Joseph Edwards said The Hideout club at 30 Emerson St. was having a promotional night for the public when police dropped in to check on how the establishment was being run. Edwards said the club was caught operating with the guest book behind the bar instead of in a conspicuous place, in violation of a city ordinance.
City rules require that a private club keep a guest book in plain sight and that everyone in the club is either a member or signed in by a member.
Tara Viola of Lawrence, the owner and manager of the club, was called before the commission last week. Commissioners emphasized to her that the club must comply with the terms of its license.
Edwards said if the club is found in violation again, Viola will be called in for a hearing, at which steps could be taken for disciplinary action. Edwards said such action could range from an order that the club close early on certain nights to license probation or even suspension and revocation of the license.
The Eagle-Tribune left a message for Viola seeking comment for this story, but she did not return the call.
The Hideout opened earlier this year at the site of the former Sportsmen’s Club, which closed last fall.
License Commission clerk Heather Budrewicz said The Hideout was granted a club liquor license by the city. She said the license was approved by the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Commission on Feb. 28.
Edwards said he previously reviewed the rules with Viola but that somehow she “didn’t get it.”
At last week’s Licence Commission hearing, police Lt. Robert Pistone said officers visited the club on June 20 and asked about the location of the guest sign-in book. Pistone said officers were told it was on a cabinet behind the bar. He said the officers were asked, “What do you need to see if for?”
“Evidently no one had signed the book and it was called an open night for the public,” Pistone said.
At the hearing, Pistone asked License Commission members if The Hideout is private club or not and said if it is a private club, it must be run like one. He added that there have already been other problems at the club, but did not elaborate.
During the hearing, Edwards reminded Viola that guest sign-in books must be visible and criticized her for having the book behind the bar on the night police inspected her club.
“This indicates to me, and that probably to my fellow commissioners, that you didn’t care that night, you were going to do what you wanted to do and that certainly is a violation,” said Edwards.
“Everyone has to be either a member or signed in by a member,” Edwards told Viola. “If you violate that, the next time you come in it’s going to be for a show cause hearing (for possible discipline). We don’t want that to happen.”
Pistone reminded Viola not to over-serve liquor, to keep crowds under control and be respectful of her neighbors.
Budrewicz said the club also has an entertainment license for music, dancing by patrons, bands and live performers, juke box, radio, television, amplifiers and karaoke.
Commission members said bars and clubs that serve liquor are allowed to be open between 8 a.m and 1 a.m., with the exception of Friday night into Saturday morning, when they can stay open until 2 a.m.