PEABODY — A compromise has been declared in the battle of Oliveira’s Steak House.
The restaurant’s management has agreed to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. for at least 90 days. The Licensing Board, in response to several violent incidents at the eatery, had twice imposed a shutdown of 10 p.m., the most recent order set to last six months. Previously, closing time was 1 a.m.
The first sanction was bounced out of court because the restaurant’s owners had not been properly notified of the Licensing Board hearing. Oliveira’s also appealed the second order, which followed a thorough and alarming briefing from police officers, but has now withdrawn that appeal.
According to Licensing Board chairman Minas Dakos, the stipulation, or agreement, reached between assistant city solicitor Adam Buckley and Oliveira’s lawyer Jack Keilty requires that no alcohol be served after 11, though food service is permitted. As the end of the 90-day period nears, the agreement calls for an Oliveira’s representative to sit down with the board and discuss whether an additional 68-day restriction should be imposed.
If Oliveira’s is dissatisfied with that decision, they retain the right to go back to court at that time. “In no event, shall any rollback of hours exceed a total of 180 days,” according to the stipulation.
All this comes as Oliveira’s entertainment license is about to go before the City Council for renewal.
The stipulation was agreed to in a closed-door meeting on Feb. 3 between Buckley, Dakos and board member Fred Murtagh. The third member, Nancy Delaney, was away at the time. “I think their problem was the functions upstairs,” Dakos said.
Police had reported a need to stand watch when the restaurant closed because of violent incidents and said illegal activities occurred regardless of the presence of police.
Keilty told the board that the restaurant has discontinued the functions — including a Latino night — that led to the difficulties. That might not impress the City Council, where Ward 3 Councilor Jim Moutsoulas has promised to take a hard look at their entertainment license, which allows live bands.
Personal experience is one reason for his skepticism, said Moutsoulas, who recalled visiting a Greek restaurant across the street from Oliveira’s last year: “We were leaving. Over in the street, there were 20 people out fighting. They were swinging knives. It was one of the most vicious fights I’ve ever seen.”
With four or five cruisers arriving on the scene, a concerned Moutsoulas guided his handicapped brother back into the Greek restaurant.
He conceded that he hasn’t heard any recent complaints about the restaurant.
“I would imagine there will be discussion on (Oliveira’s),” said council President Bob Driscoll. “I don’t think they’ve been outstanding in their relations with their neighbors.”
Past complaints about the steak house have also come from representatives of the neighboring St. Vasilios Church.
The council had been expected to deal with the entertainment license at Thursday’s meeting. It was canceled due to the storm, however, and hasn’t yet been rescheduled.