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January 9, 2014

City shuts another bar, fourth in a year


Gabriel attempted to cut off the Licensing Board's vote to revoke Bijjani's license by informing it that Bijjani was getting out of the bar business and was selling the bar. He asked the board to transfer the licenses to the potential buyer.

“He's acutely aware his relationship with the city is fractured at this time,” Gabriel said. “He's ready to be out of the nightclub business in Lawrence.”

Conway warned the board against being fooled.

“This is an old trick — trying to sell the license off before it's revoked,” Conway told the board.

The board's unanimous vote to revoke the license followed.

Casa de Sirena’s troubled track record dates at least to June 2010, when several people were stabbed over two nights of fighting in the bar and on the street outside. The Licensing Board suspended its liquor license for five days. The board suspended the bar’s license for 12 days in May 2012, after a man drew a gun on a woman inside.

“The owner demonstrates flagrant disregard for his patrons, employees and the law,” said Bergeron, who came back from his Jan. 1 retirement to appeal to the board to revoke Bijjani's license. “It's my opinion that this owner is irresponsible and should not be allowed to hold a liquor license.”

Bijjani, a Methuen resident who with family members owns the bar and at least four other properties in Lawrence, owes a total of $222,382 in overdue property taxes, including $10,165 at Casa de Sirena, city tax records show. The city has placed liens on all five properties.

Bijjani said the tax bill totals $100,000.

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