Town of Wiscasset

Renewal denied for Taste of Orient’s liquor license

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 8:45am

After hearing from the police chief the Wiscasset select board choose not to renew a liquor license for the Taste of the Orient restaurant. Cecilio Juntura, the restaurant’s owner, can appeal the decision to the state’s Division of Liquor Licensing and Enforcement. His current liquor license expires on Aug. 31.

The unanimous decision followed a public hearing Tuesday night, Aug. 2. After Sarah Whitfield select board chairman opened the hearing for discussion, Juntura spoke first saying he’d been in business at the same location since 1991. He felt his application for the renewal of his liquor license had taken longer than it should.

“You’ve got to get your paperwork in to us earlier; I told you the same thing last year,” Town Manager Dennis Simmons said in response.

Police Chief Larry Hesseltine then addressed the select board. He began by saying in the last four years the police department had been called to 306 Bath Road, the street address of the Taste of the Orient restaurant and bar, 306 times for a variety of reasons including, disorderly conduct, assault, drug use and drunkenness. “There are nine other businesses in town with liquor licenses and the complaints have all been to this address, 306 Bath Road. In 2021, we responded to 59 calls there and this year we’re already up to 48 calls,” added Hesseltine.

Juntura interrupted Hesseltine several times. “I had an officer assaulted there just two weeks ago,” Hesseltine said. “The bottom line is, I think your staff is over-serving people at the bar,” he told Juntura. “I contested this (renewal of Juntura’s liquor license) last year, and I’m contesting it again this year,” he told the select board.

Juntura and Hesseltine were the only ones who commented. After closing the public hearing Selectman Dusty Jones motioned to deny Juntura’s application, which drew a quick second from selectman Bill Maloney.

“There’s been no effort to mitigate the problems out there,” commented Jones. After the meeting Jones said he’d heard stories about the restaurant and bar circulating around town. “I appreciated Chief Hesseltine bringing the information he’d collected to the select board,” he told the newspaper. The bar is located behind the restaurant which fronts Route 1, the property is also home to the Schooner Inn.

In response to a reporter’s question following the meeting, Town Manager Dennis Simmons said Juntura couldn’t appeal the select board’s decision to the town’s five-member Appeals Board. “If he chooses to, he’ll have to file his appeal with the state,” he said. Simmons added Juntura could continue selling liquor at the bar until his current license expired on Aug. 31.

MRSA Title 28-A; Part 3: Licenses for the Sale of Liquor states: “Any applicant aggrieved by the decision of the municipal officers or county commissioners under this section may appeal to the bureau within 15 days of the receipt of the written decision of the municipal officers or county commissioners.”

By unanimous vote the select board approved an application filed by Jenny E. Graham for a new business license for the Cozy Harbor Group to be located at 263 Bath Road. Graham listed her home address as Locust Valley, New York. The application indicated she plans to offer boat canvas and drapery manufacturing. The business will be in the building where Golden Oldies Performance Center was formerly located.

Upcoming meetings and workshops include: Aug. 8, Ordinance Review Committee at 5:30 p.m. and Planning Board at 7; Aug. 11, Waterfront Committee, 5 p.m.; Aug. 16, Select board, 6 p.m., and Aug. 17, Airport Committee, 5 p.m.