NEWBURY — What constitutes a nightclub? That is the question selectmen are mulling as they consider yet another request from the Beachcoma for permission to have live music within the popular Plum Island establishment.
At a meeting last week, the board considered the most recent appeal from restaurant owner Gregg Pugh to permit him to have unamplified music playing inside at 23 Plum Island Blvd. on Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m.
Ultimately selectmen held off on making a determination, deeming Pugh’s request too vague. But the topic sparked a debate among board members over whether Pugh should be required to obtain an entertainment license, rather than continue operating as a restaurant that is granted short-term permission to have entertainment.
In the past couple years, Pugh has come before selectmen numerous times to get their OK to have live music for a variety of reasons, including several charity fundraisers.
Selectman David Mountain felt that the way the Beachcoma was functioning lately was more as a nightclub than a typical beachside restaurant. Perhaps Pugh should consider applying for an entertainment license, he suggested.
His colleague Chuck Bear noted that town leaders had received a significant number of complaints from neighbors about the music in that venue, a point that was underscored by one neighbor who spoke at the meeting. The unidentified man said that when the restaurant initially opened, Pugh had promised him there wouldn’t be any music. But he said that in 2013 alone the restaurant has hosted 30 to 40 bands, including “a lot of five-piece rock bands.”
The man said he didn’t want to “be a bummer to a fundraiser,” so for a long time he just “toughed it out.” He approached Pugh about the music, which he said he can hear from inside his house even when the windows are closed. Eventually he asked police to verify his complaints. “Enough is enough,” the man said.