Jax Garage, a popular Seaside Heights bar on Sumner Avenue, will be obligated to comply with a number of new major conditions in order to retain its liquor license.
Borough officials said concerns over safety and an outcry from neighbors prompted them to impose the conditions as part of the annual renewal of all liquor licenses held in town. Jax Garage opened in a former mechanic’s shop following the 2013 boardwalk fire which claimed the older Jack and Bill’s bar. Though its liquor license is held by another party, the bar is owned by Louis Moscatiello, who also owns the Aztec, Used to Be’s, and has previously held stakes in other local restaurants.
The owner and manager of a nearby business appeared at the meeting and said the bar has been the source of trouble for some time, including frequent fights in the street, damage to vehicles, public urination and bass emanating loud enough from speakers to physically shake the windows of nearby buildings. In order to maintain its license, the bar must now comply with eight new conditions which were supported by a 6-0 vote by the borough council. (Councilman Michael Carbone was unable to vote because he holds a liquor license for another establishment.) The conditions are as follows:
- A camera system that covers all public areas of Jax Garage must be installed with live police access.
- An ID scanner must be used at the entrance.
- All managers of the establishment must register with the borough.
- One of the registered managers, whose identity is on file with the town, must be present on-site whenever the business is open.
- “Bar cards” must be held by all employees.
- No DJs will be allowed to perform on the outdoor deck.
- The outdoor deck must close by 11 p.m.
- Professional security must remain on-site for at least one hour after closing time.
The final condition – maintaining security after closing – was added after representatives from the Sea Palace Hotel, located next door, addressed the borough council.
“When the bar lets out, a lot of people are still looking to go to the bathroom,” said Thomas Trento, the hotel manager. ” Usually it’s my door, or on my customers’ cars.”
Trento said complaints from guests are “high” and he is sometimes forced to provide refunds – especially if they were unable to sleep the previous night.
“It’s a good bar, I’ve been a patron of this bar … but my building shakes, and so does my own bed at night,” he said, adding that some of the bar’s patrons “may be a little over-served.”
The owner of the hotel, who identified himself as “JD,” was more pointed in his request for noise controls and more security.
“Even in the winter time, that bass is so high, you can literally feel it,” he said. “Then there are the fights – everything happens after 2 a.m. We ask them to move away, and then they want to fight you.”
JD said he has also been on the receiving end of racist comments related to his Indian heritage.
Borough officials said the issue of loud bass noise is outside of the scope of a liquor licensing ordinance, but pledged to speak with the management of the bar. Christopher Vaz, the borough administrator, said an existing condition on the license addresses noise that disturbs neighbors.
“The existing conditions say that the level of music inside the establishment shall not be loud enough to be heard outside the establishment,” he said.
Jax Garage was the only licensed establishment subject to additional regulations as a condition of its license renewal, though similar conditions have been applied to other bars in the past. Jax Garage is known best for its Thursday night parties year-round, and large crowds gather on weekends to see a cadre of local DJs who regularly perform.