HAVERHILL — Two Essex Street bars were warned by police and alcohol regulators last night to keep better control of their patrons following late-night disturbances earlier this summer.
Police Captain Alan Ratte said officers called to the Essex Street Grille shortly before 1 a.m. on July 16 found 20 to 30 people fighting outside the establishment at 25 Essex St.
The owner, Pascale Pervanas, told the License Commission that three men who had been drinking at another nearby bar entered his business and immediately began arguing with his customers. Pervanas said he confronted the men and asked them to stop, but that one of them punched him in the head as he was walking away from them.
Pervanas said he called police and was able to then guide most of the trouble-makers outside, where they continued fighting.
Ratte, who oversees city bars for the police department, said Pervanas did what he was supposed to do in calling police to report the disturbance. But Ratte said residents who live near the business have made numerous complaints to police about it.
“Most of the downtown calls to police for trouble are near your business,” Ratte told Pervanas. “Your neighbors are really upset, but we want to work with you to change your clientele. We need to end the rowdiness before you get in more trouble and are back here for a (liquor license) violation.”
Pervanas said he has already begun trying to change his clientele.
“We are getting away from the late-night crowd,” Pervanas said.
The commission also brought in the owner of Coaches Sports Bar & Grill, 2 Essex Street, to discuss a late-disturbance there on July 3.
Ratte said two females began fighting inside and that the establishment’s security officer had to get involved. Ratte said he wanted the commission to speak to owner Joan Kaskiewicz because police were not notified at the time of the incident, which involved one person suffering cuts from broken glass.
“It’s seems like you are running a good operation, but you need call police whenever there’s a problem,” Ratte told Kaskiewicz.
Commission member Tim Coco said he visited the business and was disappointed by the atmosphere and crowd. Beer, he said, was being sold for $1.50 a glass.
“Beer for $1.50 encourages over-drinking,” Coco said.
Ratte said downtown has been relatively free this summer of the kinds of late-night trouble that has dogged the area in the past, including fights, vandalism and excessive noise that bothered people who live in downtown apartments and condos.
“We’re trying to bring in the bar owners as soon as we see potential problems, so we can warn them and head off trouble,” Ratte said.