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Deal to buy Castaway Lounge could come soon

  • Club Castaway in Whately. STAFF FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 09, 2018

WHATELY — Castaway owner Demetrios “Jimmy the Greek” Konstantopoulos may finally be able to sell his strip club to the Boston businessmen who have been trying to clear the town’s licensing hurdles for the past two months.

The final town-level step was completed Wednesday night regarding the potential sale of the club.

The Select Board labored over the details of a probationary period in which the hopeful new owners will have to pay for a uniformed police officer on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for the business’ first four months under new ownership.

The two prospective owners, one of whom has repeatedly pledged to move to town to run the club’s day-to-day operations, expect they could be running the Routes 5 and 10 business as soon as late October or early November.

First, the state’s alcohol licensing commission has to countersign the liquor license the town approved last month. Then the club’s owners can go through with the sale.

In the meantime, the prospective buyers, Julius Sokol and Nicholas Spagnola, have dates with the Whately Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission regarding minor building plans that have already been approved by the Select Board.

The agreement made with the board Wednesday night settled debate over a proposed security plan and a request for a variance to an old town bylaw that was never enforced but called for a police detail at all hours of operation.

The four-month probation was proposed by Chairman Jonathan Edwards. The amendment to the variance was presented as a compromise by Edwards, who said he wanted to protect the health and safety of the town, while avoiding a threatened lawsuit.

“My goal here was to find a common ground knowing what the realities of the situation are,” Edwards said.

A large amount of Wednesday’s debate centered around whether this stipulation would be lifted after the four months if there are no problems. Ultimately, Edwards and the board decided not to handcuff themselves, and left open the possibility of an extension of the police detail requirement.

This point was heavily contested by the Sokol, Spagnola and their attorney, Michael Aleo, who was filling for lawyer Thomas Lesser.

“To require through this variance the hiring of another detailed police officer is cost prohibitive,” Aleo said. “It’s as if you’re saying you can’t sell this business to the buyer.”

There was debate over the extent to which footage inside the club was going to be made available to the police or the public.

During the sometimes heated discussions over a potentially $1 million investment by the businessmen, one of the most vocal neighbors throughout this drawn-out process became audibly upset with Sokol and the board.

“Just take the vote and be done with it,” Joe Zewinski said, yelling. “We’re beating it to death.” He then left the meeting.

Residents Susan and Fred Baron also expressed a desire to make the security plan more stringent.

Susan Baron visited the club upon Spagnola’s suggestion after saying at a prior meeting she was concerned about potentially illegal lap dances occurring, based on what she read from online Yelp reviews. She said she went to the Castaway Lounge on a Thursday at 3 p.m. and saw four customers, one of whom went to a back dance room with a dancer. “I do not know what transpired,” she said. In doing so, she called for the cameras to be present in the back room, which the agreement already stipulated, and that the chief should be able to see live footage to better respond to potential incidents.

In the heat of the moment Sokol suggested, “You guys want a live feed? I’ll do a live feed. That’s what the public would want.”

The board later voted to give the police chief access to the internal footage. As for the probation, the police detail will be arranged by the chief and paid for by the owners. If the chief cannot find an officer to work that detail, the club will be required to have at least two security employees present, one more than usual.

By the time the process was completed and the variance agreed upon, Sokol and Spagnola showed a sense of relief.