Northbeach cited for liquor law violations

Cover charge, parking restrictions, increased lighting in place
June 24, 2019

While no brawls occured in Dewey’s Northbeach parking lot over the weekend of June 21-23, a state official confirmed the restaurant violated several liquor laws.

Wendy Hudson, communications director for Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, confirmed that over the weekend, a Northbeach bartender received a criminal summons for violating the “last call” law and that Northbeach will receive a violation against its liquor license for the violation.

Hudson also confirmed Northbeach will be cited for failing to have a server/manager trained to serve alcoholic beverages, failing to have complete meals available, giving away alcohol and encouraging patrons to consume alcohol at an excessive rate.

In a June 23 eblast, Dewey Mayor TJ Redefer noted no incidents occurred. He said he met with Highway One president Alex Pires, owner of Northbeach, to implement new safety procedures at the bar.

These include charging a cover fee and closing the parking lot entrance at 10 p.m., increasing lighting outside Northbeach and on Dagsworthy Avenue, and making bouncers break up fights even if they happen outside.

“The owner has also agreed to consider more on-site security workers,” Redefer said.

Redefer said additional police officers were in the area Friday and Saturday nights to respond if needed. Regarding the costs of additional police, Redefer said the town has a longstanding practice on busy summer nights to bring in officers from other towns.

“This is a reciprocal agreement as we are from time to time called to help other towns too,” Redefer said. “Dewey Beach has an ordinance on the books that allows us to be reimbursed in some cases for the cost of additional police.”

In a June 24 email, Town Manager Scott Koenig said municipal police officers from Milton, Wyoming, Frederica and Harrington assisted in Dewey over the weekend.  

“For the foreseeable future, Dewey Beach will have a strong law enforcement presence on the weekends,” Koenig wrote. “As of this email, the Town of Dewey Beach will be paying for the additional manpower. These additional resources will be deployed throughout town as necessary.”

Redefer said Dewey Beach Lions Club, directly across from Northbeach, allowed police to use the building as a staging and rest area. The land Northbeach and its parking lot sit on is owned by the Dewey Beach Lions Club, which granted a seven-year lease to Highway One March 7.

Redefer said he met with Attorney General Kathy Jennings and Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach to make them aware of the situation. Jennings spokesperson Carl Kanefsky said the Attorney General offered Redefer informal suggestions on best practices to enhance public safety. Schwartzkopf could not be reached for comment.

In his eblast, Redefer said if future incidents occur, he would consider holding a town meeting.

“We didn’t have one this week because there was no time to legally notice the meeting just to talk,” Redefer said. “We needed to be prepared to act prior to the weekend. So as permitted, we met with key stakeholders, law enforcement and officials to develop an action plan for immediate implementation.”

In a June 17 email, Dewey Commissioner David Moskowitz wrote that he requested the mayor schedule a commissioners’ meeting with the public Monday, June 24, to discuss the brawls. While a seven-day period is required to notice a regular meeting, an emergency or special meeting does not require one-week notice.

Redefer said he has asked Dewey law enforcement and town management to provide updates at regular commissioners’ meetings.

History of violence at northbeach

A history of violence in the Northbeach parking lot has been recorded since at least June 20, 2014, when Dewey Police Chief Sam Mackert said at a commissioners meeting he was afraid for his officers’ safety after eight state police officers were called to respond to an incident that took 45 minutes to clear. At the same meeting, Sgt. Cliff Dempsey called the situation a “powder keg” and that “every year it’s getting worse.”

In July 2015, a Dewey Beach Patrol officer on foot patrol saw one man suckerpunch another outside Northbeach. Pepper spray was deployed twice and state police, Rehoboth and Lewes police responded.

On June 1, 2016, Dewey police reported possible gunshots fired at Northbeach; Rehoboth, Lewes, Bethany and state police were called to assist. On June 19, 2016, five men were arrested on felony charges in a Northbeach parking lot fight in which officers were kicked and punched.

Northbeach owner Alex Pires has not responded to numerous requests for comment.

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