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Mai Thai won't seek new liquor license

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published July 14. 2012 10:00AM   Updated July 14. 2012 11:53PM

Norwich – The Mai Thai restaurant will not renew its liquor license and will return the current license, formally closing the restaurant on the eve of a neighborhood effort to challenge a liquor license renewal after one woman was murdered and a second one wounded in a shooting June 24.

The restaurant has been closed since the shooting.

But residents remain concern about possible future entities that might move into the brick building at 327 Laurel Hill Avenue.

Building owner Janny Lam and Mai Thai attorney Edward Bono attended a neighborhood meeting this morning and made the announcement after Mayor Peter Nystrom said city officials were awaiting a state investigation into the liquor license renewal.

A dozen residents and state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, whose district includes Norwich, submitted letters to the state Department of Consumer Protection challenging the license renewal.

Lam told residents she didn't own the restaurant, but said the liquor permit was being returned to the state because the business was closing down.

Bono said it would be unfair for residents to "slander" the property because of the shooting. He said the owners of the business and the building were victims as well as the shooting victims and the neighbors. Bono said the two suspects were not patrons of the Mai Thai restaurant.

Norwich police on Friday released the names of two suspects, who remain at large. David Grant, 32, of Norwich, faces charges of murder, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a firearm. Devan Jarmon, 24, of Norwich is wanted for carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm, criminal possession of a pistol or revolver and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Donna L. Richardson of New London was fatally shot and a second unidentified woman was wounded in the June 24 incident shortly before 2 a.m.

State law allows residents to appeal a liquor license renewal through a remonstrance process that requires at least 10 letters from residents outlining their objections. Letters filed with the office described loud music, fights, shouting, squealing car tires in early morning hours and violence. Residents said the bar owners allowed patrons to congregate in the parking lot after hours and continued to play loud music from the bar after hours.

Some of the letters not only expressed concern about Mai Thai, but about any possible future liquor license application for the building.

Lam added that the building is commercial property and has been for years.

c.bessette@theday.com

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