By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,735)
Just before midnight last night, the City Council voted unanimously to delay reissuing the renewal of an application for a Class A liquor license for Sangilllo’s until its April 7th meeting. The Council wants additional information from the Portland Police Department before it will vote on the application. No additional information was requested at the meeting from the applicant. Sangillo’s is a very popular, small neighborhood bar with a decades long history on the East End of Portland.
Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch presented the Department’s case as to why the application for renewal of the liquor license should be denied. He cited numerous “calls for service” beginning last summer that culminated in the shooting of a young man on January 28th of this year – leaving him paralyzed and still hospitalized at Maine Medical Center. Malloch said that the high number of calls for the small, 33-seat Sangillo’s was out of proportion to much larger bars with fewer calls to the Police Department. Malloch also asserted that managing the bar from home via an extensive. longtime, indoor/outdoor camera system at the bar was not adequate. Kathleen Sangillo, an experienced manager in another field, manages Sangillo’s for her 29 year old nephew, Dana, who owns the bar because he inherited it from his deceased father. Dana works in Los Angeles, where he is a bar tender and bar manager at Harvelles. Malloch cited the owner’s out-of-state residence as another reason to deny the liquor license application.
However, Councilor Cheryl Leeman called for proof that the people causing the “calls for service” to the Police Department were indeed patrons of Sangillo’s, a fact which Malloch was unable to satisfactorily establish. Councilor John Hinck concurred with Leeman when he said he’d like more specific information on how the offending behavior is linked to Sangillo’s. Councilor Nick Mavadones said he’d like comparison figures from several previous years on calls for service at Sangillo’s, information that the Police Department does not routinely provide. Making that connection is required for the City Council to deny the applicant’s liquor license request.
Harry B. Center II, attorney for the applicant, said that the delay in the decision making process will give Sangillo’s management time to show what it can do to improve the situation. “They get the message,” Center said.
Police Department Chief Michael Sauschuck told the City Council at the conclusion of the meeting, that he realizes that Sangillo’s is a popular bar, but that his concern is for the safety of the public in the area. “We are told by the applicant that Hampshire Street is a thruway for people returning from bars in the Old Port and that these fights have nothing to do with Sangillo’s. I can’t get there. It doesn’t pass the straight face test. This is the frustration that leads to a denial of liquor licenses,” he said sometimes passionately to the Council.
Mayor Michael Brennan requested that although the April 7th meeting will include new information from the Police Department and will hear comments from both sides in the controversy, that no public comment will be taken at that time. Numerous supporters of the bar testified in support of it last night.
Sangillo’s has been at its current location, 18 Hampshire Street, for fourteen years. (Previously 18 Hampshire Street had been, a butcher shop, “Fresh Approach” that relocated to the West End of Portland.) Prior to that, Sangillo’s shared a part of the building that is Miccucci’s on India Street for fifteen years. It left when Miccucci’s expanded its current space. Dana’s grandfather established the bar that was passed down to his father who died about six years ago in a drowning accident off Old Orchard Beach. Dana inherited it from his estate as mentioned above.