New Bedford Bar Asks Board to Loosen Restrictions After Stabbing
NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford's licensing board has agreed to loosen some restrictions imposed on a city bar/restaurant following a series of violations that culminated in a stabbing there last month.
The owner of Morna Lounge and Grill at 1621 Acushnet Ave. asked the board at a meeting Monday to reconsider constraints placed on the establishment after police reported multiple violations of its licensing laws starting in October 2021.
Police had seized the bar's liquor license immediately after the March 27 stabbing, in which one person was hospitalized.
Following the stabbing, the bar remained closed for several days.
An emergency licensing board hearing called on April 6 to address the issue had imposed several restrictions on the lounge, including banning music and other entertainment and early closure.
"The Licensing Board is especially troubled about this event because you failed to heed the Board's earlier warnings about ensuring no illegality occurs on the licensed premises," the board wrote before the emergency hearing.
"By failing to maintain a safe premise, you have placed your license, which was on probation, at risk."
The measures came after the first reported licensing laws violation on Oct. 24, when police reported seeing two drunk people in a car across from the establishment.
One of them allegedly told police that she was a bartender at Morna Lounge, while the other was 20 years old and therefore underage, but had allegedly been served at the bar.
After several other reported violations — including two separate fights in December — the bar was put on probation for one year starting Dec. 22.
But at around 1 a.m. on March 27, an altercation at the bar resulted in the stabbing that saw one person injured.
Since then the bar has reopened — but without any music or entertainment, and it must close by midnight instead of 2 a.m.
On Monday, Morna manager and co-owner Mateus Barbosa's attorney, Dana Sargent, asked the board to modify its restrictions.
He said that Barbosa plans to shift his business strategy to target an older Cape Verdean crowd, and that hosting a DJ in the front area was "where all his problems came from."
Since the incident, Sargent added, it's been a "completely different scene," although he stated that the strict rules are putting Barbosa's business in peril.
"Banning all entertainment will kill his business," Sargent wrote the board before Monday's hearing.
The licensing board unanimously granted Barbosa's request for a 1 a.m. closing time and will allow music in the back room, although front room entertainment is still banned.
If another violation occurs, the board warned, the establishment could be shut down for six days.
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