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ABC revokes Bentonville restaurant alcohol permit

BENTONVILLE -- A state board has upheld the permanent revocation of the liquor license for Joe's Italian Restaurant and Sports Bar in Bentonville.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decided at a hearing Wednesday to revoke the business' permit.

Mary Robin Casteel, agency director, ordered the revocation after an Aug. 28 hearing. The revocation took effect Sept. 13, but the restaurant had the right to appeal the decision to the board.

"They can stay open for business but they can't sell alcohol," said Scott Hardin, an agency spokesman. Hardin said the board voted 5-0 to uphold the revocation.

Casteel found that Merci Polydore -- the permittee for the restaurant-- failed to cooperate by failing to attend a hearing she was subpoenaed to attend. She found the restaurant's management and staff repeatedly failed to cooperate with law enforcement and enforcement agents and intoxicated patrons were repeatedly served at the restaurant.

The restaurant was also found in violation of agency rules for repeatedly allowing or being involved in disorderly conduct on the premises.

The restaurant was accused of failing to be a good neighbor in connection with a July 14 fight at the business between patrons, management and security that resulted in two patrons being knocked unconscious in the parking lot, according to agency documents. Rob Bacile, an enforcement agent, testified at the August hearing that the July fight began inside the restaurant and moved into the parking lot and two customers were knocked unconscious by two security staff members.

Nestor Correa testified he is the manager for the restaurant, according to documents. Correa said he requested three people be removed from the restaurant, and he assisted in pushing two of the men out the door. He was then pulled outside and punched in the eye, according to the documents.

Correa said he went to the bathroom to clean his wounds and did not know how the men ended up unconscious in the parking lot, according to the documents.

Bentonville police officers Andrew Burger and Kyle Putnam testified at the August hearing about issues with the restaurant. The officers reported police had been called 52 times to the restaurant so far in 2018 and 18 of those instances involved intoxicated patrons resulting in five public intoxication arrests; two late night drunk driving accidents and one driving while intoxicated in the parking lot, according to agency documents.

Three of the calls were results of fights and two involved staff members of the restaurant, the officers said.

The officers also testified they repeatedly have issues with the restaurant refusing to cooperate with police. When they are called to the restaurant and ask to speak to Correa, they are told he is unavailable or won't speak with them.

The officers said two other people were injured on July 14 at the restaurant.

Polydore's husband, Gregory, testified at the August hearing that he and his wife are business partners and own the restaurant. He said he told his wife that she did not have to attend the hearing because she did not know much about the business.

Gregory Polydore said he and his employees always cooperate with local law enforcement, according to agency documents.

Hardin said the revocation is a permanent and the restaurant's only remedy is to appeal to circuit court.

Merci Polydore also cannot have another permit in her name for two years, Hardin said.

NW News on 10/12/2018

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