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Tilted Kilt owners take issue with Quincy Licensing Board ruling

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 10, 2012 03:15 PM

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Carley Brusca served a drink at the Tilted Kilt, in Tempe, Ariz. in May. (AP)

Owners of the proposed Tilted Kilt restaurant, a Scottish-themed pub and sports bar featuring waitresses in plaid push-up bras and mini-skirts, are appealing a recent ruling by the Quincy Licensing Board denying the eatery from opening in the space once occupied by an Outback Steakhouse.

The licensing board initially approved the establishment, referred to as a “Scottish Hooters” by a board member in a 5-0 vote on July 17. However, it soon learned the applicant had failed to notify St. John the Baptist Parish, located 450 feet away. The application was denied following a second hearing on Aug. 28.

John Aieta, an attorney at Cassis & Cayer, the Quincy firm representing the applicant, said the Tilted Kilt’s owners plan to appeal the ruling to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

“The Licensing Board in 3-2 vote essentially said they could not make a finding based on the opposition. To me, that doesn’t apply with the statute,” Aieta said. “It doesn’t interfere or it does, and they said they couldn’t make a finding. Their opposition was non-specific: We don’t want girls in this attire to be near our church. And we feel that the appeal has merit. A company can’t be denied on that basis.”

The City Clerk’s office hadn’t received official notice of the appeal as of Tuesday; however, City Clerk Joseph Shea said he did receive a phone call from the owners’ attorney notifying him that an appeal was pending.

Most likely, Shea said, his office will receive notice sometime this week with a hearing date for when both parties would go make their case before the ABCC.

“I don’t think we’re going to go in there unarmed. I think we have some reasonable standard here that we might be able to win,” Shea said. “I’m not losing any sleep over it. If you read the law, it’s specific.”

Had there been no opposition to the project, he said, the application would have passed. But the outcry from residents changed the licensing board’s mind, he said.

“I would have though the first time if they were here, if they notified the church and no one came, they would have escaped, but it came up and everyone climbed on,” Shea said.

The hearing before the state agency is expected sometime in the next few months. The state can kick the issue back to the local licensing board, overrule the board, or uphold the board’s decision. If the decision is upheld, the applicant can appeal the ruling to the Superior Court.

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission rules state that “premises located within a radius of 500 feet of a school or church shall not be licensed to sell alcoholic beverages unless the local licensing authority determines in writing and after a hearing that the premises are not detrimental to the educational and spiritual activities of that church or school.”

At the Aug. 28 hearing in Quincy, dozens of St. John parishioners came out in protest of the Tilted Kilt, criticizing its waitresses’ attire and saying it would have an impact on the spiritual and ethical mission of the church.

After several hours of testimony, Shea, who is chairman of the licensing board, Police Chief Paul Keenan, and City Inspector Jay Duca voted against the applicant. Neither Fire Chief Joseph Barron nor Public Health Commissioner Andrew Sheele changed their “yes” votes, saying they did not feel the restaurant threatened public safety.

St. John deacon Paul Lewis, who headed up the opposition, hailed the 3-2 ruling as a success.

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