The Commons

Selectboard votes to not renew Mole’s Eye’s liquor license

Originally published in The Commons issue #98 (Wednesday, April 27, 2011).

BRATTLEBORO—Last week’s fire at the Brooks House fire made The Mole’s Eye’s future uncertain.

But the loss of the bar’s liquor license may definitively seal the bar’s fate, as the Selectboard last Tuesday voted unanimously to not renew it.

Since the 1970s, The Mole’s Eye has made its home in the oak-paneled Brooks House basement — the site of various drinking establishments since the 1930s.

Owner Todd Tousley bought the bar last April. His first- and third-class liquor licenses expire April 30.

Tousley and Brenda Fortier, the manager, appeared before the Selectboard two days after the fire.

Tousley said he also owns Penuche’s Ale House in Keene, N.H., as well as bars in Nashua and Concord, N.H.

Damaged building aside, the board, acting as liquor commissioners, had a laundry list of concerns about incidents at the Mole’s Eye. Documents provided to the Selectboard by Brattleboro Police Department listed violations dating from April 2010 to March 2011.

Violations ranged from noise disturbances to an aggravated assault, where police found a man in Harmony Parking lot who had been struck in the head with a glass by a second man while at the Mole’s Eye.

Town attorneys Robert Fisher and Jodi French, from Fisher & Fisher Law Offices, also provided a memorandum summarizing a pending Vermont Liquor Control Board hearing on April 27.

The VLCB hearing will consider the suspension or revocation of the bar’s first- and third-class licenses based on 12 allegations of violations.

The alleged 2010 violations ranged from inadequately trained employees, fighting, and an over-serving that resulted in a DUI-related death.

“Where the State Liquor Control Board has a hearing scheduled in the immediate future for the serious allegations against The Mole’s Eye,” wrote Fisher and French, “it is appropriate for the local control commission [Selectboard] to proceed with caution regarding the applications for renewal.”

Selectboard member Ken Schneck estimated that the Mole’s Eye had more violations than Brattleboro’s other bars combined, “times two.”

Selectboard Clerk Dora Bouboulis echoed Schneck’s observation, saying she has not felt safe at the Mole’s Eye.

Fellow member David Gartenstein said that in good conscience, he couldn’t vote for the renewal.

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