Whately postpones Castaway deal to seek legal counsel

  • Club Castaway at the corner of Christian Lane and routes 5 & 10 in Whately. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Club Castaway at the corner of Christian Lane and Routes 5&10 in Whately. May 30, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Prospective buyers of Castaway, Julius Sokol, left, and Nicholas Spagnola, stand outside the Whately club May 30, before a public hearing regarding their possible purchase. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Prospective buyers of Castaway, Julius Sokol, left, and Nicholas Spagnola, stand outside the Whately club May 30, before a public hearing regarding their possible purchase. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

For the Gazette
Published: 5/31/2018 11:00:38 PM

WHATELY — Neighbors of the longtime Castaway strip club objected to the town’s potential transfer of entertainment and liquor licenses to prospective new buyers, picking at particular aspects of the proposal Wednesday and ultimately pushing the Select Board to delay any decision.

About a dozen residents showed up at the first public hearing regarding the pending purchase of Club Castaway from the longtime owner Demetrious “Jimmy” Konstantopoulos by two Boston businessmen, one of whom plans to move here and buy a home in Whately.

Some residents argued the Select Board needed to have the town’s lawyer at the table to adequately discuss the legality of transferring the licenses to a new owner, given their business plan to spruce up the place and to generate more commerce.

The public hearing was continued to June 13 at 6 p.m. in the Whately Town Offices.

Although Selectman Jonathan Edwards did not think it was necessary, he urged his fellow members to continue the hearing for the sake of the townspeople who have unanswered questions.

The chief concerns were about possible increase in noise and traffic at the intersection of State Road and Christian Lane.

Direct neighbors to the Castaway, Joe and Sheila Zewinski, were particularly vocal.

“We have new owners, who aren’t local people, trying to make some money back,” Joe Zewinski said.

The Zewinskis contend that if there will be more traffic in and out of the establishment and if the club will be open longer hours, which is the plan, that could create enough of a burden on the town to merit denying the licenses transfer.

The general consensus was that without a transfer of liquor and entertainment licenses, the property would essentially lose its value.

Zewinski also contended he did not receive a notice about an entertainment license transfer — as it was listed on the meeting’s agenda, town’s website and in the newspaper — but only a notice as an abutter about a liquor license.

Town Administrator Brian Domina said he was nearly positive only the liquor notice had to go out to abutters. Still, Edwards and his fellow Select Board members felt it was proper to hold off to be fair. They also could not consult the town’s lawyer during the meeting to verify what their administrator believed.

New owners?

Although Julius Sokol and Nicholas Spagnola, real estate developers and business owners, have never run an entertainment club, like a strip club, they explained they saw this as a good economic opportunity.

Spagnola, when pressed by Selectwoman Joyce Palmer-Fortune for why he wanted to come to Whately and buy this business and move to this town, he emphasized there are limited entertainment licenses that allow for full nudity, which made this space an attractive one.

Spagnola also said he was interested in other potential business dealings in the area.

Representing the hopeful buyers was local attorney and Conway resident Tom Lesser.

“It’s been there for 40 years but somehow the neighbors in Whately have been able to coexist,” Lesser said.

As for the Castaway, the prospective owners said they plan to continue to run it as a strip club, but said it needs “re-energizing,” as well as some physical changes, like a face-lift to the outside of the building. Spagnola, who would be the on-site manager and 50 percent owner, also hopes to be able to serve bar food there, which will require fixing up the kitchen.

“I’m looking to make a substantial investment,” Spagnola said. The business plans presented at Wednesday’s hearing estimated total project costs at about $869,000, with $600,000 of that spent on buying the land. He added he’s more than willing to communicate with “people that have genuine grievances.”

By bringing in bar food like a burger made to order, something that is not currently served, they see that they could attract a crowd to watch a Patriots game on Sunday, even though there will be no nude dancing on Sundays, per the license.

One resident, Rebecca Jones, objected altogether to the idea of having a strip club in town, saying, “As a woman, I’d love to not have a strip club in Whately.”

Yet Spagnola and Sokol offered they were ideal candidates to run this business and lift it from its current state. They indicated their clean backgrounds, desire to do good business and the intention to move to the area.

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