Castaways in Whately to have new owners by summer

  • Prospective buyers of Castaways, Julius Sokol, left, and Nicholas Spagnola, stand outside the Whately club last May before a public hearing regarding their possible purchase. Staff Photo/Joshua Solomon

Published: 6/3/2019 10:38:21 AM

WHATELY — By summer, the Castaways Lounge will operate under new ownership.

The prospective buyers of the strip club, Nicholas Spagnola and Julius Sokol, plan on closing on the sale in the next couple of months, Spagnola confirmed Thursday. He hopes to open under their new ownership shortly thereafter.

The strip club has been in flux for the past year as two Boston businessmen have sought to purchase the Christian Lane business from longtime owner Jimmy “The Greek” Konstantopoulos.

Last year, the Whately Selectboard approved the transfer of the liquor and adult entertainment licenses, on several conditions, following months of contention in town.

However, the deal had been pending approval from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which was received last week, according to Town Administrator Brian Domina.

The attempt to purchase the business renewed conversations on whether the strip club has a place in town.

Some residents, during the course of several public hearings, alleged without evidence the strip club was the home of illicit activities, which local police say were unfounded claims. Others felt Whately wasn’t the place for a strip club.

The Selectboard decided last summer it wasn’t within its purview to deny Castaways a new owner. Lawyer Tom Lesser, representing Sokol and Spagnola, threatened he may press legal actions against the town if it did not approve the transfer of the liquor and adult entertainment licenses. He called it a First Amendment issue.

“Unfortunately we have a constitution and this is freedom of speech,” Selectman Jonathan Edwards said in June 2018 at one of the public meetings on the license. “But it’s awful.”

The state approved a liquor license transfer to Spagnola, who is listed as manager, on May 22.

Last year, the Whately Selectboard drafted decisions on conditions of its transfer approval. The board waited to sign off on the decision until the state approved the license transfer and the actual sale took place, Domina said.

Some of the conditions of the board’s approval include: maximum seating capacity of 95; “private dining room, booths or enclosures for the accommodation of less than four persons shall not be permitted and not less than four persons shall be allowed or permitted to occupy any such room or enclosure;” and installing a new video surveillance system with the capacity to view and record all areas of the parking lot, entrance and exit points, as well as the outside break area and “all inside areas, as allowed by law, which are accessible to the public,” according to the draft of the decision.

The board has proposed stipulations on the entertainment license and a variance from the requirement to have a police officer on duty when entertainment is scheduled.

The variance will not be granted for a four-month probationary period, meaning there will be an officer during the hours of operation, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and one hour before, during and one hour after a special event. If a detail officer isn’t available, there will be at least two security personnel on duty, according to the draft.

At the end of the four-month period, the board will meet to determine whether to continue the variance or grant a new one with different conditions.

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