HAVERHILL - The popular downtown restaurant George’s at the Vault and its upstairs nightclub Mal’s Lounge is in trouble again with police and alcohol regulators - and this might be the last time.
The License Commission is set to consider two complaints from police Thursday night about violent incidents inside the Washington Street establishment. One of the incidents sparked a “melee” that spilled outside, which has been a recurring problem at the business in the heart of the restaurant district.
At the same meeting, the commission will consider a request to transfer George’s liquor license to the owners of two restaurants in Amesbury - the Barking Dog Bar and Grill and The Amesbury Ale House. The applicant for the new license is listed as Matthew David Chase on behalf of BD Ale House LLC, city officials said.
According to paperwork on file at City Hall, the new restaurant is to be called the The Barking Dog Ale House.
Paul Magliocchetti, the lawyer for George’s owners Lisa and Peter Polasek, confirmed his clients have a pending deal to the sell the business.
“There’s a potential buyer,” Magliocchetti said. “But it’s premature to discuss the details. It depends on the license transfer and some other things.”
Magliocchetti said he was not sure when the Polaseks plan to close the restaurant or when the new one might open.
Thursday’s discipline hearing, which is at 7 p.m. at City Hall, is the result of incidents June 16 and July 8.
In the June incident, a woman was hit in the head with a bottle after using “racial slurs” against other patrons and club employees, according to a police report. The incident led to a “melee” that spilled outside, the report said. The July incident also involved a patron being hit in the head with a glass bottle. Both incidents occurred after midnight.
A a result, George’s was cited for failing to provide adequate crowd control and a safe environment for patrons. A man was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in connection with the July incident. No suspect has been identified in the July assault.
Since last summer, the commission has suspended George’s alcohol license, reduced the hours it is allowed to sell alcohol and warned the owners repeatedly about problems.
In February, the Palaseks got off with a warning for failing to notify police in a timely manner about two separate incidents in which patrons were seriously injured inside the club.
Last summer, the commission forced the business to close at midnight and reduce its capacity to 100 customers for one month after the commission received numerous complaints from police about fights and other problems including over serving patrols. The business was cited for seven liquor license violations last year, police said.
Magliocchetti said the potential sale of the business is not related to problems there, however.
“Fine dining is a big positive for that area and they did a great job to stick it out for a long time, until this business opportunity came along,” he said.
Mayor James Fiorentini said he helped recruit the Amesbury restaurateurs to Haverhill.
“I heard they were interested in Haverhill so I went out to Amesbury and visited them,” Fiorentini said. “I told them we’d love to have them and that we would do everything we could to expedite their coming here.”
The mayor also said he’s disappointed George’s is closing.
“I love the food at George’s and I hope they find another place in Haverhill,” he said of the Polaseks. “There have never been any problems with the restaurant. The problems have been from the nightclub upstairs.”
The Polaseks could not be reached for this story. Magliocchetti said he did not know their future plans.