A popular Riviera Beach bar where a 21-year-old Millersville man was seriously beaten last month and that has long been a sore spot to its neighbors could lose its liquor license for serving alcohol to minors.
The owner of A. L. Gators, in the 8500 block of Fort Smallwood Road, is to face 31 county liquor board charges tonight of selling alcohol to underage patrons last March. If he is found guilty, owner Vincent Valentine could be reprimanded, fined or have his liquor license suspended or revoked, said Tom Riggin, board chairman.
Mr. Valentine has run the bar under various names, including Act III, Sand Bar and Network, for the past 20 years. It often has been the subject of complaints from neighbors angered by loud crowds and roaring motorcycles, but the current charges are the first since 1986 alleging violations, according to liquor board records.
Police reports indicate that officers inside the bar March 19 and 26 issued the citations after checking customer identifications.
Mr. Valentine declined to comment on the charges.
A woman who has lived across Bar Harbor Road from the tavern said parking, noise and disorderly customers have been a constant problem.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she is often awakened at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. by the shouts of rowdy customers.
"They [customers] come up on my lawn and drive across it to turn around," she complained. "Since it has been named A. L. Gators, it's been a little better."
Police say they made numerous drug arrests in the parking lot of the bar when it operated under the name of Network.
In the first six months of this year, police have been called to the bar 117 times. Thirty of those complaints have been for disorderly people, three for assault, five for theft and four for drug violations; the rest are miscellaneous complaints.
"It's the type of nightclub that draws a large volume of people," said county police Capt. Tom Shanahan, Eastern District commander. "It's somewhat typical of any tavern that has a lot of young people drinking. We pay a lot of attention to the bar because residents in the area have complained."
Thursday night seems to be the worst, with motorcycles constantly coming in and out of the lot, said Karen Collins, who also lives on Bar Harbor Road.
"It's a nice club," she said. "But it's a very young crowd, and that might be what the problem is. They are young and they don't know how to handle it."
Philip Lovell of Millersville was on his way to the men's room the night of July 17 when a man grabbed him by his shirt and tried to punch him, said his mother, Eunice Lovell.
"My son tried a few times to duck and when he finally tried to hit the man, someone behind him grabbed him around the neck, and
about eight people began punching him," she recounted.
Another man kicked Mr. Lovell in the face several times, she said, before bouncers grabbed him and threw him out of the bar.
According to a police report on the incident, an officer saw the bouncers bring Mr. Lovell outside the bar and tried to intervene when another unidentified man punched Mr. Lovell in the face. The assailant disappeared in the crowd inside the bar, police said.
"I don't understand why the officer could not find out who did this," Mrs. Lovell said. "I'm not saying my son is a perfect person, but you should be able to go to a public place without getting beat to death."
Mr. Valentine said he and his employees are cooperating with police to find Mr. Lovell's assailant.
"We want to catch him as much as they do," he said.