Easthampton mayor, brother buy neighborhood bar

  • Casey’s Big Dog Saloon in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

Friday, January 12, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — Taking over a small business is difficult enough under usual circumstances.

But as Easthampton’s mayor, Nicole LaChapelle must also take steps to ensure she’s acting ethically.

LaChapelle and her brother, Christian Anthony LaChapelle, are together buying the neighborhood bar Casey’s Big Dog Saloon.

Attorney Michael Aleo, who is representing the LaChapelles, attended a Licensing Board meeting on Monday on their behalf, as the mayor said it would be inappropriate for her or her brother to attend the meeting.

The board voted to approve the transfer of license from Casey’s Big Dog Saloon to Old Jarvis LLC, a business entity owned by PER MGMT, Inc., which is under the mayor and her brother’s names. The next step is approval from the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. The LaChapelles expect to take ownership of the bar in the spring.

Casey’s, at 40 Holyoke St., was previously Leone’s Pub and was renamed when Lisa Fusco purchased the bar in 2007. The building has been around for decades, Fusco said. It was a pizza place, the Holyoke Street Grill, and, around the 1940s, was a gas station, Fusco said.

“It’s really a true neighborhood pub,” she said. “Everybody knows each other … everybody is welcome there.”

Space is small, about 1,100 square feet, Fusco said. There’s a pool table, Ms. Pac-Man machine and jukebox, she added. There’s also a kitchen, but it has not been used during Fusco’s ownership, and she said it needs to be renovated.

After owning the bar for 10 years, Fusco said she’s feels like it’s time to sell.

“I feel like it will be in good hands,” Fusco said.

The mayor said she’s been planning on owning a business with her brother since 2016. The siblings worked together for 17 years in different departments at the Center School for Crisis Intervention and Assessment in Holyoke.

“We’re used to working together,” she said.

The mayor said she chose to pursue the opportunity to buy Casey’s Big Dog Saloon in June. She was not sure if she would win or lose the race for mayor at that time, but said she could make the business venture work out either way.

She said she’s a “silent partner” and won’t be involved in the day-to-day operations, adding that she will keep to her campaign promise of transparency and recuse herself from any conflict of interest possibility.

This article was updated at 10 a.m. Friday. The earlier version of the article had incorrectly stated that PER MGMT was a non-profit  corporation. Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.