LYNN — Trio’s Mexican Grill, a popular bar and restaurant on Market Street, will have to close earlier at night after Lynn Police deemed that the large amount of response to, and crime at the establishment has put a “drain” on its resources.
The city’s License Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to roll back Trio’s hours from 1 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for six months, citing the decision was based on the establishment becoming a public safety concern.
The decision followed a correspondence the commission received from Lynn Deputy Police Chief Leonard Desmarais, who wrote that the department was concerned about the large number of police responses to Trio’s. From Jan. 1, 2018 to May 6 of this year, officers responded to Trio’s 76 times, which includes three major incidents in the past three months.
“The large number of responses and our limited manpower are resulting in this establishment being a drain on our resources,” wrote Desmarais.
Commission chairwoman Patricia Barton told Trio’s owner, Nilson Garcia, that her bar attracts “unsavory characters” who cause problems and it has to stop. She said Garcia has been cooperative with increasing security measures, but thinks it’s beyond her capabilities to control who is going into her establishment.
“I think roll back your hours back to 10:30 and we will revisit this again in six months, provided there are no more problems at your establishment,” Barton told Nilson on Tuesday night. “But, I will be honest with you, if there are more problems, you will be looking at revocation … Your establishment has truly become a (public) safety issue.”
Barton initially recommended that hours be rolled back to 9 p.m., but Nilson and her attorney Sam Vitali said that would essentially put them out of business. Still, with hours being rolled back to 10:30 p.m., Vitali said that could result in a significant loss of business.
Nilson said she’s taken measures to increase security at her bar. She’s installed additional security cameras, enlisted police details on weekends when available, tried to encourage people to leave by shutting off music near closing time and after 11:45 p.m., she closes the doors and no longer lets people in.
But the problem is, people still try to come in.
For instance, on May 26, Lynn Police officers on patrol came across an altercation at the door between security, the doorman of the club and a group that was outside, according to Lynn Police Lt. Michael Kmiec.
Security was trying to disperse the group, but they were refusing to leave. Three people were arrested on trespassing and other charges, with one of the men also charged with assault and battery on a police officer, Kmiec said.
That followed a report of shots fired outside Trio’s on April 19 at 1 a.m., which happened as patrons were leaving the bar. Nobody was hit, but police recovered shell casings at the scene. About a month later, an investigation led to the arrest of a 24-year-old Lynn man on a warrant for firearms and assault charges, according to Kmiec.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on May 5, officers came upon a cab with a 57-year-old man inside who said he was assaulted at Trio’s earlier that night. The man was drunk and uncooperative with police, and no arrests have been made, Kmiec said.
From a police perspective, Kmiec said rolling back the hours of all bars in the city from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. in the past has a significant impact on reducing the amount of crime that happens.
According to James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, the decision to roll back hours to 1 a.m. for all of the city’s bars was made in 2007, with the License Commission voting to keep those hours in 2011 or 2012 after police showed “compelling evidence” that crime had gone down.
Trio’s earlier closing time will go into effect three to five days from the date of the notice of decision the commission is preparing to send. Lamanna said Nilson and her attorney can appeal the commission’s decision, but it’s his legal opinion that rollbacks for hours are not reviewable and cannot be challenged as long as there was a fair public hearing.
“Courts have taken the position that hours of operation are purely a local concern,” Lamanna said. “Suspensions and revocations can be challenged.”