Town grants Weirs Road restaurant a live entertainment permit but acts must be limited to 2 people to avoid 'nightclub' designation

GILFORD — Selectmen on Wednesday gave Junior's Crush House restaurant and bar full approval to provide live entertainment, with the caveat that the size of the band be limited to two musicians.

After a discussion with owner Bart Congialose, selectmen also approved a conditional outdoor live entertainment license with the same restriction of no more than two musicians.

"It wouldn't be large scale," Congialose said. "It's to give customers more of a reason to come to my business."

Junior's Crush House is a restaurant and lounge that opened this summer and features drinks made with crushed ice and American-style cuisine. It is on 40 Weirs Road (Rte. 11-B) and was opened in a building that had been unused for more than a decade.

As part of their conditions, selectmen restricted the size of the band to two members instead of the three-member band Congialose had requested.

When he asked why, Fire Chief Steve Carrier said because the law, enacted in the wake of The Station nightclub fire in Providence, Rhode Island in 2003, requires any restaurant or nightclub that seats 100 or more people to have a sprinkler system. One of the things that define nightclubs, said Carrier, is the size of the band.

Congialose also wanted an outside entertainment license and selectmen initially balked, telling him that the most-often made complaints from residents regarding nearly every other live entertainment venue in Gilford was noise.

After Congialose told selectmen the patio area was surrounded on three sides by at least a six-foot wooden fence and is located behind his building, which would block much of the noise from reaching the street.

He also told them his building permit includes outside food service.

Chair Kevin Hayes asked Congialose what time frame he was considering for outside entertainment, to which he replied he would like Thursdays through Sundays. Congialose added that outside entertainment "wouldn't be a big deal" and that he just wants to give people an additional reason to come to his restaurant.

When asked, Congialose said he hadn't even considered a disk jockey because he didn't want to attract a lot of kids who would want to dance.

Hayes suggested giving him a conditional outdoor permit until the end of October and allowing him to have outside music on Fridays and Saturdays only until 11 p.m.

"Whatever happens in the next few months will determine what happens in the future," Hayes said.

"This is huge," said Selectman Gus Benavides.

"You can make this work but be thoughtful, thoughtful thoughtful thoughtful," he added.