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Quincy Licensing Board rejects Tilted Kilt application in 3-to-2 vote

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 29, 2012 02:10 PM

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Rose Dimov served lunch at the Tilted Kilt, in Tempe, Ariz. in May. (AP)

Quincy’s licensing board reversed an earlier decision that allowed a Scottish-themed pub and sports bar into the city, after an outcry from city residents over the attire of the waitresses.

Specifically, the mid-thigh kilts, push up bras, and cropped sweaters of the wait staff for the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery had representatives of St. John the Baptist Parish, located across the street from the proposed location, up in arms.

Dozens of parishioners from St. John’s, numerous members of Fort Square Presbyterian Church, and a number of Quincy residents attended the crowded licensing board hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The hearing was a re-do of a July 17 meeting that had failed to notify the church.

At the earlier meeting, the Board of License Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a branch of the Arizona-based Tilted Kilt chain. But in a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, members sided with the opponents.

“I’ve reviewed the laws. [It] places burden on the licensing board to determine that premise isn’t detrimental to spiritual value of the church. Based on the testimony I’ve heard tonight, I’m not able to support this,” said Jay Duca, director of inspectional services and a member of the board.

Police Chief Paul Keenan, who did not attend the previous meeting, agreed with Duca, saying that the law was written in a way that allowed people to express their beliefs, and that the location was not ideal.

Neither Fire Chief Joseph Barron nor Public Health Commissioner Andrew Sheele changed their votes, as they did not feel the restaurant threatened public safety.

“I knew what [the restaurant] was. I did my due diligence. I knew what I was voting for, and I wanted people to know that that’s what this is,” Sheele said. “I’m glad people came out to voice their opinion, [but] I do not believe we are the moral police for every establishment that opens in Quincy.”

Sheele did amend the earlier vote by scaling back the hours of the restaurant, so that it would close at 11 p.m. in keeping with the hours of Outback Steakhouse, which had occupied the Parkingway Street location.

Despite the time change, City Clerk and Licensing Board Chairman Joseph Shea sided with the opposition in a tie-breaking vote.

Attorney Andrew Fleming, who was representing the Tilted Kilt applicants, said his clients were disappointed in the ruling and that they would review their options before taking any next steps.

“We didn’t anticipate that they would outright deny a license with circumstances like this, especially when the opposition was almost entirely based in the attire of the wait staff,” Fleming said.

An appeal to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission is still possible, as is an appeal to the Superior Court, Fleming said. His clients may even look into other locations in the city.

As for Deacon Paul Lewis from St. John the Baptist Church, who headed the opposition to the restaurant, the decision was both surprising and pleasing.

“I was really surprised … you had to show there was an adverse impact on the church. That’s the sticky part I had to stick to. But it didn’t fit in with the whole Quincy Rehabilitation. It’s not what we want,” Lewis said.

The idea of the New Quincy was brought up numerous times during the meeting by members of the public, School Committee member Anne Mahoney, and members of the church.

People supporting the establishment, including two residents who stood up to speak and representatives from the Quincy Chamber of Commerce, cited the economic vitality of bringing a restaurant into a space that had been vacant for two years.

“The dress code and the concerns of the church -- we shouldn’t have a church near a beach then,” said Charles Kalell from Quincy. “I understand the feeling of the church. …I did go online. Are they dressed like a lot of restaurants? I would say no, but if I don’t like how they are dressed, I wouldn’t go.”

Regardless, the closed Outback Steakhouse will remain vacant for now as Quincy waits for a new proposal for the space.

To read more about this issue, click here.

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Jessica Bartlett

(Above) Attorney Edward Fleming speaks in favor of the proposal to the Licensing Board. (Right) Deacon Paul Lewis listens as the proposal is explained again.

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