LINCOLN, R.I. (WJAR) -- The sign is up and finishing touches are going into the Vine and Tap on Main Street, which is located in the Albion section of Lincoln, much to the chagrin of neighbors.
“Either somebody made a mistake or it looks very shady,” said neighbor Michael Napolitano, who’s house is directly next to the bistro and bar, separated only by a row of arborvitae trees. “This is a residential neighborhood. Many of us go to bed early, especially the children, and we don't want to hear the noise at night. There's no place to park either."
Eight homeowners did not know the new business recently got a liquor license at the end of 2018. All of them put their concerns and lack of notice in writing and sent signed affidavits to the town. State law requires homeowners within 200 feet of a business applying for a liquor license to be notified in writing.
Anthony DeSisto, who is Lincoln’s town attorney, told the NBC 10 I-Team a notice was published in the Valley Breeze newspaper, but something went wrong with notifying neighbors.
“I can say once it was brought to the town’s attention, the town took immediate action here and the town council is going to rectify the situation,” said DeSisto.
For now, the liquor license has been approved, but not issued.
Town council president Keith Macksoud told the I-Team the council will likely schedule a new public hearing in March for neighbors to attend.
Records showed Michael McAteer is one of the bistro's new owners.
On the liquor license application, McAteer circled a box denying he had ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. However, a review of Rhode Island court records showed otherwise.
After a series of I-Team stories dating back to 2004, McAteer was convicted and served time for 18 felonies, including forgery and counterfeiting. Then, 84-year-old Carmel Cenami was swindled out of $52,000.
"To know that the money we worked for 50 years was squandered on drugs,” she said in 2005.
Cenami died last year without full restitution being made but $36,000 is still owed, according to court records.
McAteer told the court at the time that he had a drug addiction.
On Wednesday, he would not answer questions on camera, but privately said he made a mistake checking that box on the liquor application and that he's trying to rebuild his life. He also said he continues to make payments to Cenami’s estate.
McAteer’s business partner told the I-Team that Michael is a “fabulous cook” and everyone deserves a second chance. She and McAteer said they are not looking to open a rowdy bar room, but a quiet place for customers to have dinner, a drink, and go home before 11 o’clock.