Eclipse Loses Liquor License for Three Days
NORTHAMPTON, WED. DEC. 7 — The city’s License Commission ruled today that Eclipse Restaurant at 186 Main St. must surrender its liquor license for three days, lending approval to an agreement reached between Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz and the establishment’s management.
The suspension was related to the charge that four underage Smith College students were served alcohol at the restaurant during a private Halloween party held on the night of the snowstorm-related power blackout.
The license was handed over to Sienkiewicz this afternoon, and may be picked again on Saturday at the police station.
The chef at Eclipse, Zacharia Gorham, 38, made the news after an open-door party he held at the restaurant on Oct. 30 took an unexpected turn. According to police reports, the Smith students became inebriated at a “free food and alcohol” party in the dark restaurant that night. Several hours after the students returned to campus, their dorm supervisor determined that they were drunk, asked where they’d been, and called the police.
At around 10 p.m., police following up on the phone call said say they found the door of the restaurant unlocked, dishes and glasses strewn about, and Gorham inebriated, naked, and getting comfortable in a booth with his girlfriend. He was subsequently charged with four counts of serving alcohol to a minor, and told to appear before the License Commission on Dec. 7. No criminal charges were filed. The Smith students, who were said to have retained lawyers, did not speak with police officers about the incident.
After the original story appeared on Northampton Media on Nov. 15, it was shared hundreds of times on Facebook and picked up by two daily newspapers, inspiring lively commentary.
Gorham told police visiting his restaurant that night that he “more thank likely did” let underage Smith students drink at the party, and later told NM reporter Amanda Drane that he would simply tell the truth to the three-member License Commission at the violation hearing.
But Gorham didn’t appear at Council Chambers today. His mother, Jean Weller, did. Weller neither confirmed nor denied the alleged violations. Eclipse 186 Main LLC is registered under Weller’s name, and she is manager-of-record for the establishment’s seasonal wine and malt liquor license.
The restaurant may serve food during its three-day suspension, but can’t tell diners to bring their own bottle, said commission chairman Brad Shimel.
Eclipse looking at new business arrangement
In related news, John Casey Douglass, an owner of the Apollo Grill in Easthampton, said he was negotiating with Gorham and Weller around taking on a management role at Eclipse.
“Nothing’s nailed down yet,” he said. “These things are complicated.”
Douglass said he had formerly been in business with Lisa Fusco and Mike Vito at Venus and the Cellar Bar. Venus restaurant closed earlier this year, then owing the city of Easthampton thousands of dollars in unpaid meal taxes, but the Cellar Bar remained open under Fusco’s sole proprietorship. In April, the revelation of Fusco’s business troubles prompted her to withdraw her candidacy for local office in Northampton.
“I was the operating manager and they were the money,” said Douglas. “It was more complicated than you can imagine.”
As for Eclipse, Douglass said there are a lot of attractive things about the business. “The location is great and Zack can really cook,” he said. “I’d like to help Zack showcase his skill set.”
As for the party that Gorham hosted on the night of the snowstorm, Douglas attributed it to a “lapse in judgment.” Douglas said he helped negotiate the terms of the three-day license suspension with Sienkiewicz.
“We wanted to work with the city,” said Douglass. “The best thing we can do now is move forward.”
© 2012 Northampton Media