By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen Sept. 27 continued a hearing for Billy’s Pub, 81 Clinton St. The main issue was obtaining a recreation permit for the club, which has been undergoing changes in management, operations and physical design. The former Verona Grille, which closed in 2012, reopened as Billy’s Pub in 2013. The pub received its alcohol license shortly thereafter.
The current problem stems from the pub’s featuring entertainment, which requires a separate license aside from operating a bar. The owner has been before the selectmen several times on this issue, which has caused more confusion and delays. In the process of seeking an entertainment license, other deficiencies have further delayed the operation of the pub.
At the meeting, the pub was represented by Joe Duggan, who identified himself as a friend of James Larson, the owner. He claimed that even after hiring an outside consultant, the pub has continued to lose a lot of business, in part, because changes the pub has made – such as setting-up for Keno – have been hindered by the interior of the pub and its seating.
The “setup table,” he said, had been ruled by the inspector to be a “bar,” which then required approval from Boston. “It’s not a bar,” he claimed, “just a serving table. We have been told to stop our entertainment, and that means we don’t have the money to hire staff.
“Most customers are seniors who just want to hear ‘60s music,” he said, adding that “Billy’s Curse” has hit other places that want to provide similar entertainment.
The issues of the pub’s fire alarm and burglar alarm have been resolved, he said, but not the entertainment, Keno, “bar” issues, and occupancy issues.
Duggan claimed he had given Larson a retainer to fund further licensing issues.
“There has been no change except to replace booths for a serving counter that is inconvenient for the staff,” he said. “I want a vote tonight to get going while we address any other issues re entertainment regulations.”
The hearing was then closed with a 5-0 vote for granting a conditional entertainment license based upon the contingency that all relative permits and inspections be completed, with the license to be held by selectmen until all conditions have been met.