Moose Denied Liquor License Transfer

Doylestown Borough Council shot down a request to transfer a liquor license from Bristol to Doylestown.

After a lengthy hearing that gave new meaning to the phrase "standing room only," Doylestown council denied an application to transfer a liquor license into town.

The nine council members voted unanimously Monday evening to deny the request from Matthew Bender to transfer a "club" liquor license from Sons of Italy in America on Wood Street in Bristol Borough.

Bender wanted to transfer the license to 127 E. State St., the current home of the . Working with the building's owner and Moose member Robert Walton, Bender proposed to create a new private club called the Standard Club.

If the transfer had been approved, the existing lease with the Moose Lodge would end, Walton said, and the Standard Club would take over rental of the building.

More than 100 people packed the council chambers at for the hearing, which lasted nearly an hour and a half.

Bender, a Doylestown native who returned home from running a restaurant in Portland, Ore., said he wanted to start a new club to replace the Moose.

"The Moose Lodge is a wonderful place and houses a great number of members of our community," Bender said, adding that he would like to "refine some things and establish ourselves more as a food environment."

The Standard Club has been in existence for two years and has about 30 members, Bender said. It does not have nonprofit status yet, he said, but is in the process of applying for it.

Membership costs $50 a year, Bender said. The club would like to choose a local charity or nonprofit each year for which to raise money, he said.

But council members and neighbors of the Moose who opposed the transfer had a litany of questions about what would happen to the Moose's existing liquor license, how many members the new club would have and how it would make money, if not by opening its doors to the general public.

"There’s just so much money that can be made from food and liquor sales," said council member Joan Doyle. "I’m still not quite sure how you fundraise and how you’ll give back to the community and at what level."

Several neighbors stood to tell council about the litany of problems they say they already experience with the Moose Lodge, from music so loud it shakes their windows to drunk couples engaging in sexual encounters in their cars and even in residents' backyards.

Transferring in a second liquor license and starting a new club would be an intensification of use, they said.

"We’re all very fond of Bob Walton. We think he’s a great guy," said Ed Ludwig, who lives on East Court Street. "This is just a problem that we feel very, very strongly about, the nearby residents. We think it would be a terrible mistake to let this be approved."

Flo Smerconish, a Doylestown Realtor, disagreed.

"The Moose was there before all of you," she said. "Get rid of the Moose, bring in the Standard Club. I already have my application in."

Stephen Agrista, who lives directly across from the Moose, said the issue isn't whether Bender or Walton are nice guys, or whether the menu for the club's proposed restaurant looks good.

"The issue is use," said Agrista, who passed out copies of a 28-page packet documenting complaints about loud music, unruly patrons, illegal parking and other issues with the Moose Lodge over the past year.

"You’re taking a large entity and putting it in a neighborhood," Agrista said. "It’s like trying to land a 747 on our Doylestown (Airport) landing strip. You can’t put that kind of operation in a residential neighborhood."

Doylestown Borough solicitor David Conn, who ran the hearing, said the only issue before the council on Monday was the transfer of the liquor license.

"What may be going on at the Moose Lodge right now - there is nothing council can do tonight about that," Conn said. "There are other avenues that we can and do pursue for that."

scoty August 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM
How does one join tje standard club
RP August 23, 2012 at 02:12 PM
@Bill. Not being childish, being honest. Everyone knows if there was a Donkey hanging on that building instead of a moose, they would have had no problem. Glad I moved, because this council makes me ashamed to be a registered Democrat. Just a microcosm of what is wrong with this country.
tom August 24, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I'm confused, the Standard Club is a non-profit? Where can one find its mission statement?
Christa Hamilton Conte August 24, 2012 at 12:23 AM
The boaRd and their followers might consider a retirement community
Tom Albert August 24, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Your Mom's allied with peeing drunks? Oh, I see, I think you meant "alley-peeing drunks" (damn spell checker or public/private educational system...grrrr). But as a neighbor of the esteemed Moose, I must share that it has been my experience that those favoring alfresco urination appear to prefer voiding on lawns than in alleys (and, presumably, on allies); I'm not certain if any have considered Depends (or maybe catheters--there's a commercial on tv that features a woman who promises confidential counseling to all those interested...but I digress).
Tom Albert August 24, 2012 at 02:40 AM
(read comment below first)...And Rob, even though I admire your commitment to the philosophy of "(You Gotta Fight) For Your Right (To Party)," even if it is sorta 1986-ish, I think you may be confusing what the "needs of the many are" with the "needs of the few." For example, Mr. Bender, the Waltons--the few; the people living on State, Church and Court streets--the many. Now I know you will rebut--"but Tom, the Standard Club is going to benefit charity!" Well, Rob, if it is going to be a non-profit and Mr. Bender wishes to share with those in need--why not continue to do charity events and try to open a for-profit club/restaurant; talk to Jeff, he may have an in with the landlord of the old Chico's--or talk to Ms. Smerkonish, as she apparently has already signed up for a membership to Mr. Bender's club (be forwarned, Mr. Bender--you better make sure a good portion of your staff is over 65 as Flo has expressed her intent to boycott businesses where seniors are not employed [see her post from Patch article on the opening of Weiss' Supermarket]). And Rob, glad to see you didn't sink so low as to say this is a political issu...oh.
Moderoy August 24, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I am not about to trivialize what is perhaps the greatest tragedy in human history. But if there is a modern-day parallel for the horrific suffering of the Jewish people of Europe during the 1930’s and 40’s, it would surely be the recent tribulations of Steven Agrista and the other unfortunate neighbors of the Doylestown Moose Lodge. Sure, you’ve heard of The Night of Broken Glass, when Nazi storm troopers destroyed Jewish shops and synagogues throughout Germany. But did you hear about the night the Agristas had to retire to their country estate because there was a band playing across the street from their lavish town residence? (Poor creatures could even hear the music through their gate.) Yes, there was fear and starvation at Dachau. But what about the time a limo parked in the Agrista’s neighbor’s driveway for 20 minutes? That’s private property, man! And surely the Fuhrer himself would not wish on his most hated enemy to be awoken briefly on a warm summer night by the passing sound of human voices. We cannot tolerate such injustice! Close the doors of this evil place forever. And while we’re at it, we should evacuate all of the undesirables from Doylestown, individuals and businesses alike, so the chosen ones shall suffer no longer the ignorance of the lower classes. We could relocate them, perhaps, to some type of ghetto. Just temporarily…until we figure out a final solution.
Jason Tucker August 24, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I live in Portland Oregon and have been friends with Matt Bender for years. I've worked with him on several occasions and he's helped me with my restaurant as well. Matt is a VERY successful restaurant owner in a city that Is extremely competitive for food dollars. I've been to town hall meetings similar to the one you all are commenting on as well as the moose lodge in Doylestown. All I can say to your city council is this, Portland is written up constantly by the Ny times. Doylestown isn't! Portland has plenty of young creative people moving here everyday. Doylestown doesn't. Portland is voted every year as the most livable city in U.S. Not the same for Doylestown. I could go on and on but the one thing that's most important is that you can acquire a liquor license for about $3000 "trust me there's like a million of them" and somehow are streets aren't filled with urine and all are windows aren't broken. The town hasn't burned to the ground and all I can think is how ignorant some people are to deny a hard working guy like matt an opportunity to make some money! Good luck with your city council B.S. or you could vote out small minded council members, all of them!!! Jason Tucker
Ivanna Benderova August 24, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Forget the liquor license ... Make it an all ages strip club! Weekend brunch, legs and eggs, want that scrambled or fertilized? Take your 1st amendment for a walk around the neighborhood.. Cheers
Tom Albert August 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Oh, but you did...
Tom Albert August 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM
But the Standard Club is supposedly going to be a non-profit, isn't it? To the best of my knowledge, Mother Theresa and the Sisters of Charity were not in it to "make some money;" nor were they concerned about making certain that Calcutta was being constantly written up by the New York Times. Wouldn't Mr. Bender be interested in owning a for-profit establishment if the poor guy wants to make some money?
Rileigh August 24, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Paddy, the reasons the current owner was able to buy the building at such a discount are many and include; 30 years of benign neglect by the membership at large, a small but vocal group of members who resisted efforts to change, years of incompetent and likely corrupt management, and a local community that can afford to pay $5.00/beer so they don’t have to smell like smoke. As for Evan being the realtor, I believe it was actually his sister or a real-estate attorney that was the agent of record. Regardless, the Lodge had a longstanding date with bankruptcy. The Moose is lucky that current owner did buy the building. The lodge got an additional lease on life to turn things around. Had anyone else bought the building the place would have luxury condos or offices by now. The fact is that the Lodge should have sold the building in 2006 when they had a chance. They could have paid off the debt, walked away with the remaining equity and moved into something that they could support. Instead the memberships choose the worse course of action which was to bicker their way to insolvency. The real shame of the whole thing is that those in the community who had the knowledge, skill and expertise to keep the lodge strong turned their back on the place. BTW - Flo, weren’t you and your husband once members of the Moose lodge? I am glad to see you support the Standard Club, but where were you when the Moose needed people like you.
Bettina August 25, 2012 at 01:57 AM
you're comparing the Moose with the Halocaust? What a nimrod you are. You are one of the undesirables you mention in your verbal rampage...maybe you should leave Dtown.
Moderoy August 25, 2012 at 08:04 AM
Rileigh and Nadia, I'm afraid your comments say more about you than my silly little "editorial" says about anything. And the implications upon your intelligence are not favorable. And Rileigh, if you are indeed laughing AT someone "out loud" alone at your computer, I'd talk to a professional. Ha! (Laughing inside to myself.)
Wynne August 25, 2012 at 09:33 AM
I think this has run itself into the muck, where it should stay. But FYI, Forbes lists Portland MAINE as America's most livable city. PDX doesn't even make it into the top 15. Hasn't been on the list for some years now. Sure Oregon gets a lot of press. Most press is on bars, restaurants and beer! Oh, and coffee. And clouds. Portland Maine has some of the finest restaurants in America as well. A world class museum and theater. Colleges. But also intelligence, charm and a sense of New England dignity.
Jason Tucker August 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Wynne., your mistaken. Like most people in ignoranceville!! Aka doylestown. R.I.F. Reading is fundamental!
Jason Tucker August 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Tom Albert August 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
...But spelling and grammar are apparently not fundamental...(Just kidding Jason; clearly your indignation at being challenged affected your typing prowess and ability to produce a rejoinder consisting of anything more than insulting the intelligence of the person(s) disagreeing with you).
Jason Tucker August 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Tom, you've missed the point entirely! I'm no English major, obviously! It was a late night for me here with all the bars and peeing in the streets and all. If you truly hate the moose, and I suspect some people do. Be careful what you wish for because it could be turned into condos but the smart money would get federal funding for low income housing. That would put all of your pseudo liberal friends in a giant conundrum!
Tom Albert August 25, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I do not hate the Moose nor would I be against a non-profit organization that supported the poor, the sick, the elderly and those with mental health issues. In fact, I requested more information from Mr. Bender earlier in the posts (I have not heard back; is there a link to the Mission Statement for the Standard Club?). And actually Jason, low-income housing would be terrific. Although this is a very wealthy county, there is a dearth of affordable housing. And with cut-backs to the social safety net, housing is going to become even more scarce. It would be a real boon to have housing located near local commerce and healthcare providers as public transportation is not always convenient. If you have any more information regarding the Moose becoming low-income housing, please post it; I certainly know stakeholders in the community with whom I would like to share this (possibly) good news. Thanks Jason!
Jason Tucker August 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Sure, I'll get you some info on federally subsidized low income housing. It's truly very popular here and very successful for property owners. But let's find out the true color of the neighbors of the moose. I have a question for them! Please only respond if you live nearby!! Would you like to replace the moose lodge with low income housing?
Jason Tucker August 25, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Or Tom, if you really are excited about low income housing you could use this invention called google.
tom August 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Oh, I apologize Jason. I thought perhaps you had some inside information given your previous comment. No need to get me info on federally-subsidized housing--the agency for which I work has frequent interaction with the Bucks County Housing Authority and the Bucks County Housing Group. And yes, I am quite familiar with Google and it's many virtues. In fact, I used it prior to asking Mr. Bender for information about his proposed non-profit and it's mission; I did not have much success finding any answers. By the way, I do live nearby to the Moose so you can put a check mark in the "yes" column for me in the results of your informal survey. Good luck; Mr. Bender is fortunate, indeed, to have such a loyal and caring friend! Imagine--you, living all the way in Portland, taking it upon yourself to conduct a poll to assist him with another business proposal! With a friend like you and the terrific success he had in Portland, one wonders why he would have ever left!
Moderoy August 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I went to the Maennerchor recently on a Friday night. 300 plus 20-somethings jammed into this overgrown frathouse. Non-members are admitted by the dozen at the door, loaded with alcohol in plastic cups, then sent stumbling and vomiting into the night without the slightest regard for personal or public safety. Fights occur on a regular basis. Inappropriate sexual activity abounds. Wasted slackers not lucky enough to score one of the debauched debutantes roam the town in search of opportunities for vandalism and other types of misconduct. Similar scenes can be found at Puck, Finney's and other local hot spots. And yet, here we are, talking about the Moose Lodge. Where, on the same Friday night, there may be (at most) 20 or 30 people in the entire establishment. Where non-members are not admitted unless accompanied by a member (no paying 5 bucks at the door for access to booze). Where most people are in their mid-30's or older, and are responsible members of the community. The point is this: Eliminating the Moose (or preventing the establishment of a similar club) will do nothing to alleviate the problems described by the local community members Monday evening, because the real problems are still there, and likely always will be in one form or another. But are these really "problems" at all? Or just the nature of living in a town, with other people? Because if you don't like dealing with people and noise, it is very quiet in the township.
Matthew Bender August 25, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Our mission statement "The Standard Club is a community of members united by their emphasis on identifying and donating without measure to those in need within Bucks County, Pennsylvania." The Standard Club will select a new charitable cause annually. The Standard Club is for the community and will welcome all members who share in that belief. Our emphasis is on the food side of restaurant hospitality. Those of you who have questions, please feel send me a direct email 'DoylestownStandard@gmail.com'
tom August 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Thank you for the info! In an earlier post, you said that the club is a non-profit--is that accurate? And do you have a website with more information regarding specifics as to the club's definition of "those in need in Bucks County?" As I am sure you would agree, the definition as stated is rather broad. Also, will you be hiring individuals with disabilities and would the club be able to donate the use of space for groups of individuals with cognitive and mental challenges for purposes of socialization. As you probably know from your experience as a businessman working in a community, there is a lot of work being done by mental health consumers and agencies for greater community integration. How exciting it would be for The Standard Club to take the lead in Doylestown to help with such an initiative! Given the glowing recommendation of your friend Jason (see above), it sounds like you have the knowledge and skills to run a non-profit that will really make a difference for those with cognitive and mental challenges by providing creative assistance and resources! (Jason intimated above that the town is not giving you a chance to "make some money;" question--is heading a non-profit really something one does when one is attempting to personally "make money?"--because I know some directors of non-profits who would love to talk to you! lol). Thanks again for the mission statement.
Wynne August 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Thanks, Tom. Add to that; autism awareness evenings at the Standard club. Weekly evenings of LGBT awareness at the Standard Club. Oh, and speaking of "those in need", Corbett has just cut all funds to the disabled homeless. I am sure that the "socially aware" members of The Standard Club are ready to fill in the gaps. Big job. Needs big bucks. I hope that the Standard Club finds another home to do their socially responsible works. Maybe they could meet at the library.
Chance Gardener August 26, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Did you hear that Snoop Dogg changed his name to Snoop Lion? What are the implications of this for the Moose Lodge?
Moderoy August 27, 2012 at 02:33 AM
In my view, a "pussy" is someone who levels the sort of personal insults you use here behind the safety of your computer.
Charity September 20, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Matthew Bender, Why do you need a liquor license if your "emphasis is on the food side of restaurant hospitality?"


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