After much discussion at last night’s board of selectmen meeting, a local restaurateur was granted the licenses he needs to re-open his business.
During the public hearing, the board posed many questions to John (Jack) Sorgi, mostly focusing on his decision to open the restaurant and bar at 327 Gifford Street without obtaining a liquor license. During the questioning, Mr. Sorgi said he made a mistake and made his case that he is a responsible business person and experienced restaurant manager. Ultimately, the board unanimously approved an all alcoholic common victualler and entertainment license to Mr. Sorgi.
Selectman Douglas H. Jones asked Mr. Sorgi why he failed to mention the incident during the public hearing.
“I wished you addressed the issue of opening without a license and not waited for the board to bring it up here tonight,” he said.
Speaking for his client, attorney Christopher Lebherz said if he knew the board had a copy of the police report he would have addressed the issue. The report is from May 22 when a police officer visited Mr. Sorgi at the restaurant and asked him to close because he was not properly licensed.1
Mr. Sorgi said when he opened the restaurant last year, he was operating under the previous business owner’s license who was staying on as the restaurant manager. The plan was to transfer the license to Mr. Sorgi once he was able to take over the building lease.
Because of what Mr. Sorgi called “complications,” he was not able to transfer the lease right away, which is needed to obtain a victualler license. 1
The previous restaurant was the Grille 327. 1
Just before Memorial Day, he said he was in the process of filing the paperwork to take the lease and decided to apply for a new license. This is when a police officer came to the restaurant to ensure he was not intending to sell food or wine until he received his own operating licenses in his own name.
Mr. Sorgi closed the business that day and has remained shut ever since. He is hoping to open as soon as he receives a liquor license from the state.
“It was an unintentional mistake, and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Sorgi said to the board.
“When I was concretely made aware of my error, I shut down immediately.”
Although he said he accepts culpability, he did say over the course of opening the business, he has received “confusing and conflicting” information from various departments in town hall.
“Perhaps I misinterpreted what I was told, but I thought I was following proper protocol,” he said.
“When you have a restaurant you have to take responsibility and do what needs to be done, not give excuses,” said Selectman Rebecca Moffit.
Mr. Sorgi’s attorney, Christopher Lebherz, responded by stating it was just one incident and that his client has taken responsibility for it.
“There have been a lot of problems with businesses on this site. I hope the board can look at Mr. Sorgi as the person who can fix it,” he said.
Mr. Sorgi worked at Paul’s Pizza in Falmouth for 12 years and as a manager at Falmouth’s Papa Gino’s Pizzeria for 22 years.
Just before the unanimous vote, Selectman Samuel H. Patterson said he supports this new business as it will bring jobs to town.
1. Updated June 12, 2014. Additions to the story.