Students have one less place to go out in Bristol after Gillary’s Taphouse on Thames Street shut down early last December.
A sign by the door states the business is on vacation. But its website no longer functions. The phone is no longer in service. The last post on the bar’s Facebook page was made Nov. 30, 2019.
One former bartender says the writing was on the wall months ago.
Collin Cegelka, a 2019 RWU graduate who worked as a bartender at Gillary’s from September 2018 to September 2019 says he is still owed $5,000 by the owners.
“They did a really good job at running it into the ground,” Cegelka said.
Cegelka said he had no problems when he worked there during the fall of 2018. It was a different story when he came back to campus after winter break.
“A couple weeks went by and [management] said, ‘There was a problem with the payroll, we switched payroll companies. Paychecks will be a week behind,’" Cegelka said. "I thought nothing of it.”
State records list Ronald Krupinski as the general manager of Gillary’s. Cegelka said that Maria Lee Terra was also the manager. Krupinski was reached by phone but declined to talk and hung up on a Hawks’ Herald reporter. He also did not respond to a subsequent message.
Cegelka and other former employees have lodged complaints with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training against the establishment.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training spokeswoman Angelika Pellegrino said the department is unable to comment on any open or pending investigations.
Cegelka said Gillary’s management continued to say there were problems with the payroll. “Then the excuse shifted to ‘UPS didn’t deliver the checks.’”
He alleges the managers would lie to the staff about their paychecks.
“We as a staff would catch them in multiple lies. There was never one specific excuse they provided," Cegelka said. “We got shafted as a staff.”
“Even bands that played at Gillary’s weren’t getting paid,” he claimed. “The only person getting paid was the DJ.”
Cegelka also claimed management would improperly handle money in the cash register at the end of the night. According to him, the proper way to handle it would be to put it in a bank bag, then a safe in the office while multiple people watch and sign off on it.
“Instead of them taking the money and securely putting it in a bank bag, they would put it in their pockets,” Cegelka said.
Bristol Town Clerk Louis Cirillo confirmed that Gillary’s liquor license renewal application was filed but paperwork was still missing.
He also said various state boards have to approve the license as well. “[The Labor Department] could possibly be a factor” in the renewal, Cirillo said.
Students on campus expressed disappointment over the bar closing.
Senior David Hayes said he never appreciated how integral Gil’s was for the bar scene in Bristol until now.
“Last Thursday without [it] was chaos,” Hayes said. “Aidan’s was only letting so many people upstairs. The Bean was maxed out at one point and wasn’t opening their upstairs. Thames was so crowded you couldn’t get a drink.”
Hayes added Gillary’s was unique because it was better suited for dancing.
“There’s not really a place like that around anymore. Closest thing is probably Aidan’s but like I said they started limiting the number of people.”
“I am going to miss having a place to go to on Thursday nights that allowed me to socialize with friends and people I don’t get the chance to see during the school week… [it] was able to accommodate most of Roger’s upperclassmen comfortably,” said senior Andrea MacLeod.
“From what I heard about why Gil’s closed, it’s completely understandable.”