A hearing on the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery's application for a liquor license in Quincy has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date, Quincy officials said.
The hearing at the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission had been scheduled for Wednesday, after the Tilted Kilt's lawyers appealed a Quincy Licensing Board decision last summer that denied the liquor license.
The restaurant is challenging ABCC rules that give special standing to schools and religious institutions, but Quincy officials say they are confident of prevailing when the commission eventually decides.
Officials for the Arizona-based chain did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
Issues have been ongoing since July, when the licensing board unanimously approved a liquor license for the Scottish-themed sports pub, which features waitresses in short plaid skirts and bras.
Shortly thereafter, however, the applicant realized that it has not notified St. John the Baptist Parish, which is located 450 feet from the proposed establishment on the Parkingway.
According to ABCC rules, churches and schools within 500 feet need to be notified of any establishment planning to sell alcohol. The church was subsequently notified and the matter sent back to the Licensing Board for a fresh start.
Although the first review of the project raised no red flags, church supporters came out in force during the second Aug. 28 hearing, protesting the attire of the wait staff and saying that it had a detrimental effect on the spiritual and ethical mission of the church.
The lengthy meeting ended in the church’s favor, with three out of the five licensing board members turning down a liquor license for the proposed bar.
According to City Clerk Joe Shea, who chairs Quincy's licensing board, the lawyers for Tilted Kilt moved to have a direct verdict on the hearing, which would have prohibited the city from presenting its side of the case.
“[The Tilted Kilt lawyers] were saying it had no merit, and the ABCC said it certainly does have merit, so we will have to play it out,” Shea said.
The commission subsequently postponed the hearing date. A new date has not been set, and Shea said it probably won't happen before the end of the year.
Shea said he wasn’t overly concerned about the appeal, especially with the commission’s recent decision.
“In the rules and regulations, they must respond to churches and synagogues within 500 feet. Why not have that law if they have no standing?” Shea said.
Additionally, history is on the city’s side, he said.
The commission has remanded only a handful of licensing board appeals back to the city, Shea said. Even fewer appeals have been overturned by the commission.
If the city’s decision is not upheld, however, it could set a precedent for the future, which would change the standing a religious or educational facility might have on liquor licensing approval, Shea said.
Regardless, the decision should be clear-cut.
“Either we’re right or wrong,” Shea said. “If we’re right, they are going to have to abandon that site and go to another one… [Tilted Kilt] said it's an old archaic law and it doesn’t mean anything. Maybe they are right, but let's have the ABCC tell me.”