It looked dicey for a time, but Maui Waveriders Bar & Grill will get to open in Lahaina. On July 29, 2005, there will finally be a new tenant at the old Maui Brews location.
The Maui County Department of Liquor didn’t make it easy for owner James R. Mansell, who already runs two other establishments on Oahu. At two Liquor Commission hearings, Mansell had to listen to commissioners talk of “violations,” “the FBI” and even “kidnapping.”
Background and criminal checks are done on all liquor license applications, and apparently Mansell’s record is quite detailed (citing privacy reasons, First Deputy Corporation Counsel Tracy Fujita Villarosa said during the July 13, 2005 Liquor Commission hearing that the department would not be making it public).
Though the LC declined to recommend that Mansell’s Rider Group is “fit and proper,” the facts are clear. Mansell’s bars on Oahu have been around for four years without any violations. He’s never had any felony convictions of any kind. He had one violation for a “petty misdemeanor” some years ago, for which he paid a $100 fine.
Yet he does have, as LC Director Franklyn Silva pointed out at the July 13 hearing, an “extensive police record”—lots of arrests dating back 20 years on a variety of allegations. But in none of those cases were any charges brought, trials set or convictions handed down.
“I don’t have anything pending that I know of,” Mansell told the commission, mentioning that he had to go through a “12-step program” six years ago. “I had to change a lot. I’m a changed man.”
Given all that, two commissioners—Manuel Moniz, Jr. and Frances Meshulam—voted against Mansell. They cited his arrest record as well as discrepancies between various reports concerning his height, eye color, place of birth and social security number, even though Mansell showed during the hearing that the differences were trivial and most likely the product of typographical errors.
Five commissioners thought otherwise, which is why Mansell is opening next week. “I will do a good job,” he told them.
Given the controversies that surrounded him before he even opened, he better do more than that if he wishes to stay open.