Darian Blanchard said he bought TJ Quills on April 1, but was never informed of the strict conditions the previous owner reached with the city to resolve allegations of underage drinking stemming from a police raid earlier last year. One of those conditions was that TJ Quills pay $250 per week — together with Rocco’s, under a similar agreement — to Maple Area Residents Inc. toward hiring a security patrol around the street, and it was this condition that the bar was accused of violating before the city Alcohol Beverage Control board in a Tuesday afternoon hearing.
Blanchard’s attorney, Peter Title, told the board that he only learned of the consent agreement about a week ago, and immediately got in touch with MARI president Thomas Milliner to express a willingness to cooperate.
“We just found out about this a few days ago,” Title said. “As soon as we get that information as to how much we owe, whatever it is we owe, we’ll send a check to MARI.”
Alcohol board chair Rodney Seydel said that he remains concerned about the other provisions in the consent agreement, which include restrictions on noise and litter, identifying a contact person that neighbors can reach whenever the bar is open for any immediate problems, and that the bar send a representative to quarterly MARI meetings to discuss general problems. A month, Seydel suggested, would be adequate time to determine whether the bar is complying, and city attorney Nolan Lambert agreed that a decision could be postponed until then.
After the meeting, Blanchard said he doesn’t think complying with the provisions will be a problem.
“I think they’re reasonable,” Blanchard said. “I agree with pretty much all of them.”
Blanchard said he plans to keep the TJ Quills name on the bar, but he hopes to add a kitchen area that will attract an older crowd, particularly during happy hour. He also hopes to change the hours, to close earlier at night. While he will continue allowing 18-year-olds into the bar, he said he plans to buy electronic scanners that detect fake IDs, giving people over 21 wristbands and strictly enforcing a policy that only allows them to drink.
“I’m definitely trying to change everyone’s look on the bar,” Blanchard said.
TJ Quills’ previous attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
In a separate item, the alcohol board met in a closed-door session with the city attorney over a pending lawsuit against Phillips Bar, also on Maple Street. The bar has appealed a judgment against them issued by Civil District Court, and until the appeal is resolved, the Phillips item will be taken off the alcohol board’s monthly docket, board members decided after returning from the briefing with the attorney.
To read our live coverage of the meeting, see the box below.