A lawsuit heading to trial next week centers on a lease dispute between the owner of Backstage Pub and his landlords at the Post Office Square Shopping Center.
The plaintiff, Pearl Street Partners LLC, accuses Vincent Dober Sr. of failing to maintain required insurance coverage for three years and says he failed to fix the issue within the 15 days allowed under the lease. Dober refutes the allegation and in a counterclaim says the landlords violated the lease by forcing him to pay nearly $15,000 in repairs to the building.
The landlords are represented by attorney Renee Mobbs of Sheehey, Furlong & Behm. She could not be reached for comment, but in court filings denied Dober’s allegations.
The landlords say Dober failed to provide proof of insurance between 2015 and 2018, and when he eventually shared insurance certificates, the information was well beyond the grace periods outlined in the lease.
The plaintiffs terminated their contract with Dober in July and asked him to vacate the premises within two weeks. He refused to leave, and when contacted by the landlord, negotiated an agreement that would allow him to stay in the building while he tried to sell the business, according to court filings.
Later that month, the landlords offered Dober a new short-term lease. He rejected it, and a week later his landlords demanded that he leave. The bar remains in business.
The landlords will ask a judge next week to rule that Dober must vacate the premises because his lease was appropriately terminated. They’ve also requested attorneys’ fees and all other financial amounts due under the lease.
Dober, meanwhile, is asking for costs associated with the landlords’ alleged breach of contract and the “unjust enrichment” of his landlords from repairs he paid for himself: $12,000 for repairs to the building’s plumbing and more than $2,000 for a new fire exit.
Dober and Backstage Pub came under scrutiny last year after state investigators said he was drinking on duty there and failed to fully disclose his criminal record on his license renewal.
Court records show the landlords first alerted Dober of his inadequate insurance coverage May 1 – a week after The Reporter published a story detailing the state liquor control had issued a three-day license suspension as punishment for Dober being found intoxicated while working at the bar.
Problems continued to mount for Dober over the next several weeks. He faced another complaint from a separate incident alleging he was impaired on the job, and the liquor control board obtained evidence showing he pleaded guilty in New York in 2017 to misdemeanor charges of criminally possessing a weapon and unlawfully possessing a large capacity ammunition feeding device, state records showed. The records also noted there also was a civil finding against Dober for driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol.
Because of the subsequent offense, the liquor board revoked the pub’s liquor license for a week and handed down tight restrictions: Dober is prohibited from drinking or being under the influence of alcohol or any substance while on the premises, the board ruled.
Norman Blais, an attorney who represented Dober at the liquor hearings, is also representing him in the lawsuit. Blais said his client has tried to resolve the issue prior to next week’s trial but has been unable to do so.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify which shopping center Backstage Pub’s is located.