Select Board seeks to stop Thirsty Whale complaints

Dec 5, 2022

“It looks like a small riot every night.”

That’s how Police Chief Brian Levesque described the average scene after last call at the Thirsty Whale on Cove Road, a bar whose liquor license renewal was the subject of a lengthy discussion during the Select Board’s Dec. 5 meeting.

The license was initially on the agenda on Nov. 14, but a hold was placed in order to address a variety of violations that have occurred on the property this year.

Among the incidents highlighted by Select Board member Shawn McDonald include a patron brandishing a firearm, another sitting at the bar in a ripped shirt, an altercation on the Fourth of July, noise complaints late at night, and an alleged stabbing on the property on Oct. 29.

“There’s some pretty significant problems here,” he said. “This is a mess.”

Thirsty Whale co-owner Shawn St. Aubin called the recent incidents “unfortunate,” but noted that there has “never been an issue inside our establishment.”

Most of the problems, he said, happen outside the bar.

That said, he assured the board and his wife have been working to “get things under control.” Measures include hiring additional security guards to work on weekends, moving up last call to 1:10 a.m. and ensuring people are out no later than 2 a.m.

St. Aubin added that the bar has implemented a dress code prohibiting people with hoods, a demographic he said tends to cause much of the trouble. The bar has also made it so those attending events have to be at least 25 years old.

“We’re cleaning things up [and] doing the best we can,” St. Aubin said.

McDonald acknowledged the work done by St. Aubin, but also offered some additional advice: that bartenders and servers be aware of how much their patrons have had to drink prior to leaving.

“Alcohol entices knuckleheads,” he said. “Once you grab the handle on that, situations that arise from somebody being too intoxicated is greatly reduced.”

Vice Chair Stanley Mickelson, meanwhile, wanted to see more out of the owners.

“Be in that damn building seven days [a week],” he said. “You better be proactive.”

Ultimately, the board voted 4-1 (with Mickelson being the lone dissent) to renew the license with the stipulation that St. Aubin keep an open communication with the police department on other ways to reduce incidents.

“Your liquor license is issued by this board, any issues you have that require the police department, you call Dartmouth,” McDonald said. “We want to make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to protect your business, but also protect your patrons — especially those that don’t get involved with the knuckleheads.”