The state’s highest court denied an appeal by a Bingham restaurant seeking a liquor license four years after the town’s selectmen denied it.
In a decision announced Dec. 28, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the town’s refusal to grant a liquor license to the owners of Antler’s Inn and Restaurant on Main Street. Selectmen cited drunk and disorderly conduct at the bar when they denied the license in 2008.
The owners of Antler’s applied for the 2008 license after running a restaurant and basement bar for about a year, said First Selectman Steve Steward.
Steve DiPietro and Aaron Sorenson, business partners from southern Maine, opened the restaurant after a previous one at the site, Moose Alley, closed.
Moose Alley was denied a liquor license following a 2005 drunken bar fight that led to the death of a Moscow man, Blaine Beane.
When Antler’s opened in 2007, selectmen said they were concerned about having a bar in the area because it was close to a residential neighborhood, but approved a liquor license because owners had plans to open an 18-room inn, which would bring business to the area.
In 2008, selectmen refused to renew the liquor license.
Steward that although downtown businesses were needed and wanted “it wasn’t a good place for a bar” and that while selectmen had approved a restaurant, the Antler’s atmosphere was more like a bar and was “a little rowdy at times.” DiPietro and Sorenson never opened an 18-room inn at the site.
In an appeal to the court, Antler’s owners sought to reverse decisions by the town and the Bureau of Liquor Enforcement within the Department of Public Safety to deny them a liquor license.
They argued that they hadn’t been properly notified by the department and had been denied the license on unsubstantiated claims they had been serving liquor while the license was still under consideration.
The original decision in Somerset County Superior Court was made in March 2011 and upheld the town and department actions.
Steward said that the same people still own the building, but that it has been vacant since Antler’s closed. There is only one restaurant in the town, Thompson’s, which is farther north on Main Street and serves beer and wine, but not hard liquor.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368