By Sarah Trefethen Sentinel Staff
WINCHESTER — The owner of a Route 10 convenience store wants to take his business in a different direction.
John E. Pasquarelli wants to shut down P-Square’s Country Store and open a private club in its place. The Winchester planning board is considering his application for a change of use of his property.
If the application is approved, the new business will be called P-Square’s Private Music Club, Pasquarelli said in an interview.
“A lot of people in my family have played music all their lives. We like to play music and have a few beers, and that’s what we’ll be doing at the club,” he said.
By making it private, Pasquarelli said he hopes to control who can come into the club, where he plans to sell beer and wine.
“We don’t want to disturb the public, but we don’t want the public disturbing us either. I don’t like the idea of any Joe Schmoe off the street walking into my building,” he said.
But Pasquarelli’s proposal has already disturbed some.
A public hearing on his application ran for an hour and a half at the Dec. 19 planning board meeting before it was continued, according to draft minutes.
The hearing will resume Monday.
“The biggest, most significant concern was having a public bar in Winchester, which a lot of people don’t think Winchester needs,” said Brian Moser, a planning board member who was present for the hearing.
Pasquarelli has not officially incorporated his club with the state. Uncertainty about what the club would be like might contribute to public concern, according to Moser.
“If somebody came in and said ‘we want to turn this into an Eagle’s Club or an Elks Club,’ we would at least have some idea,” he said.
But Pasquarelli says it won’t be all that different from something that already happens.
A group of about 25 musicians have been meeting at the store for a number of years, he said.
“One of my criteria is going to be, to be part of our group, or club of musicians, you have to play music,” he said.
Closing the convenience store, which Pasquarelli said has lost money for as long as he has owned it, would be a way to downsize the business in the hope of making it sustainable.
But some are worried that Pasquarelli has more in mind for the club than music and beer.
At the Dec. 19 meeting, planning board member Kim Gordon said the club is being marketed as a “gentleman’s club” and moved to have the application reconsidered under the town ordinance that governs adult book stores, according to the meeting minutes. The motioned failed.
Moser confirmed that rumors of plans by Pasquarelli to provide adult entertainment have circulated for about a year, but adult entertainment is not allowed in Winchester.
“I can’t speak for everyone on the board. For myself, if he plays by the rules he’ll get it,” Moser said.
Pasquarelli dismissed the rumors, pointing out that he is an army veteran and lives on the premises with his wife and 14-year-old daughter.
The planning board will meet Monday at 7 p.m. in Winchester Town Hall.
Sarah Trefethen can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or firstname.lastname@example.org