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Spaghetti Club Under Review

Bar May Lose License After August Scuffle Between Patrons

By Adam S. Hickey

At a hearing of the Cambridge License Commission last night, The Spaghetti Club publicly defended itself for the first time against charges that bar employees escalated a fight among patrons on Aug. 30.

Bar employees told the commission they were only trying to protect a customer from a group of five others whom he had attacked, and witnesses who had previously said the bartender held a victim down during the fight said last night they were not sure it was he.

Defenseless victims "were not held down by any employees," said James J. Rafferty, attorney for Cranston Inc., the parent company of The Spaghetti Club.

Rafferty said club staff "acted appropriately" and that their behavior "wouldn't warrant any disciplinary action" by the commission.

The Spaghetti Club has had its licensed suspended twice since March 1994, according to commission Executive Officer Richard V. Scali, and risks having it revoked.

The three-member commission voted to take the matter under advisement. A decision is expected tomorrow morning.

Fighting Over Spilled Drinks

The entire incident started over a spilled drink, according to witnesses at the bar.

Joseph W. Squires and four to six of his friends were on one side of the bar. Joel W. Garrett was on the other side, having a drink with a friend and watching his girlfriend, then a server at the club.

Squires knocked over the server's tray and subsequently apologized, according to witnesses.

But before Squires knew what was happening, Garrett attacked him, witnesses said.

"Garrett grabbed Squires by the throat and had him pinned against the wall," Dennis M. Toner, a friend of Squires, told commissioners in the hearing.

Toner, Squires and several others in their party began fighting with Garrett and his friend Joseph T. Mills, witnesses said.

Scott E. Griffen, the manager on duty, and bartender Andre Haynes intervened, breaking up the fight. Griffen said he asked Squires and his friends to leave, and escorted them upstairs and outside of the club, leaving Haynes to calm Garrett and Mills.

"We were leaving and I asked the manager to keep [Garrett and Mills] inside while we left," said Kevin B. Conroy, a friend of Squires and Toner.

Right after Conroy's request, "Mr. Garrett came [running upstairs] with a full head of steam and punched Squires in the back of the head," Toner said last night.

"It just broke into a melee," said club manager Griffen.

Squires told the commission investigator that Griffen was holding his arm while leading him outside, which is when he was punched.

"It wasn't a smart thing [for Garrett] to do, but he did it anyway," Griffen said, noting that Garrett was outnumbered. "I wasn't gonna let Garrett get beat to death."

Haynes, the bartender, said he was surprised to see Garrett run up the bar's stairs after Squires and his friends.

"I was like, 'Oh hell!' and went up after [him]," Haynes said. "It just seemed pretty obvious to me that [Garrett and Mills] were gonna get hurt."

Haynes said he acted to restrain Garrett's attackers.

"I was trying to stop him from getting hurt. I wanted the whole altercation to stop," he said.

Toner, who previously told the commission investigator that Haynes held him down while he was kicked, said he wasn't as sure last night.

He said that as he went to help Squires after Garrett's punch, he "was taken down," but said he does not know by whom.

Toner said the man who held him down was black, and since Haynes was the only black man he had seen, he assumed it was the bartender, though he said last night he was not certain.

And Squires, who has also accused the bartender of involvement in the fight, said after the hearing that he is not sure who it was and does not know if it was a bar employee.

In his written statement to the commission, Garrett called the club negligent in not preventing his injuries, which required medical attention at Mount Auburn Hospital.

Garrett was not present at the hearing. According to Scali, Garrett had called earlier to say he wouldn't be able to make it because he had a class that night.

In their statements to the commission investigator, both Squires and Toner said they thought they were over-served alcohol.

But Griffen said Squires and his friends were "cooperative" when asked to leave, and Haynes told commissioners no one involved in the fight was intoxicated.

At the close of testimony, Gladys "Pebble" Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund, said she thought the bar's license should be revoked.

She said that in the 17 years the Defense Fund, a non-profit organization, has been working to "monitor developments" and improve order in the Square, The Spaghetti Club remains the one "exception" among the group of bars whose record of incidents have improved.

"It never changes. People become inebriated inside, then come outside, and there's melee in the street," she said. "You don't know what's going to spew out of the door of that operation.

Haynes, the bartender, said he was surprised to see Garrett run up the bar's stairs after Squires and his friends.

"I was like, 'Oh hell!' and went up after [him]," Haynes said. "It just seemed pretty obvious to me that [Garrett and Mills] were gonna get hurt."

Haynes said he acted to restrain Garrett's attackers.

"I was trying to stop him from getting hurt. I wanted the whole altercation to stop," he said.

Toner, who previously told the commission investigator that Haynes held him down while he was kicked, said he wasn't as sure last night.

He said that as he went to help Squires after Garrett's punch, he "was taken down," but said he does not know by whom.

Toner said the man who held him down was black, and since Haynes was the only black man he had seen, he assumed it was the bartender, though he said last night he was not certain.

And Squires, who has also accused the bartender of involvement in the fight, said after the hearing that he is not sure who it was and does not know if it was a bar employee.

In his written statement to the commission, Garrett called the club negligent in not preventing his injuries, which required medical attention at Mount Auburn Hospital.

Garrett was not present at the hearing. According to Scali, Garrett had called earlier to say he wouldn't be able to make it because he had a class that night.

In their statements to the commission investigator, both Squires and Toner said they thought they were over-served alcohol.

But Griffen said Squires and his friends were "cooperative" when asked to leave, and Haynes told commissioners no one involved in the fight was intoxicated.

At the close of testimony, Gladys "Pebble" Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund, said she thought the bar's license should be revoked.

She said that in the 17 years the Defense Fund, a non-profit organization, has been working to "monitor developments" and improve order in the Square, The Spaghetti Club remains the one "exception" among the group of bars whose record of incidents have improved.

"It never changes. People become inebriated inside, then come outside, and there's melee in the street," she said. "You don't know what's going to spew out of the door of that operation.

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