On Sunday, Nov. 1, Bastille Kitchen, 49 Melcher St., was nearing the end of just its third Sunday brunch after being closed most of the summer when a fight broke out that ended with two men stabbed and a third sliced in the hand.
The restaurant has fired the event planner that promoted the brunches and the restaurant's new manager - whose first day was the day of the stabbing - is no longer sure he wants to work there permanently. Residents of the loft apartments above the restaurant in the converted textile factory, already at odds with the restaurant over noise and trash, have grown even more outraged.
As police continue to investigate the incident, A hearing on the incident at the Boston Licensing Board today ended with as many unanswered questions as answers about what happened around 6 p.m. that day - like why the fight started and even whether the men with knives were part of the same party or came together in a fighting ball from different tables.
"We never really thought something like that would have happened," new manager Riccardo Coluzzi said. "It's just unusual to have a stabbing during a daytime brunch," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce agreed.
Coluzzi, restaurant attorney William Ferullo and BPD detectives William Gallagher and Eddie Hernandez told the board that the restaurant's third straight Sunday brunch had been going well. Tables of up to six people, each table six feet apart, were having a good time dining on food from a menu - no more brunch buffets. A DJ played music when the live saxophonist wasn't playing. Based on reservations, about 100 people were expected throughout the 2-7 p.m. brunch service; about 40 were inside around 6 p.m.
Ferrullo said it was a welcome respite for the restaurant, which had shut in March due to Covid-19 and only re-opened in October, and then just for its new brunch series - promoted by a company called Bent Ballot Entertainment, which specializes in events aimed at young professionals and college students. For Coluzzi, who has worked as a manager at several Boston restaurants, it was his first day as Bastille's new manager.
But for residents of 49 Melcher, it was a return to the loud noise that they had enjoyed not hearing in the months since March.
Coluzzi said he was at the restaurant's front door, greeting patrons, when he heard a commotion at one table. He said other restaurant workers were already there trying to calm things down and that he tried as well. When the hubbub continued, he said, he told the patrons that's it, he's going to his office to call police - which he then did, around 6:14 p.m., according to his cell records.
Meanwhile, Hayley Marsh, who lives on the second floor of 49 Melcher, was getting fed up as well, not by arguing, but by all the music flowing straight into her living space, again, after several months of peace and quiet.
Around the same time as Coluzzi, she also called 911, with a noise complaint. She acknowledged she felt a bit silly, since it wasn't an emergency, but she and other residents had been told by 311 to call 911. And she felt a bit miffed because "I was home all Halloween weekend because I was instructed by the city not to go out," and here were all these people downstairs congregating in a restaurant, many unmasked, listening to somebody blowing hard through a saxophone.
She told the board she didn't get any sense of urgency from the 911 call taker. But then she went downstairs and saw and heard "10 to 15 cops cars and ambulances coming down the street," and thought, oh, goodness, did they overreact to her noise call? She asked a cop at the scene what was going on; he told her to leave right away because "it was a dangerous crime scene at that point."
Hernandez said he arrived on scene not long after to find broken glass on the floor, tables shoved to the sides, broken furniture and drops of blood. And in the middle of it all, he saw restaurant workers on the floor, applying pressure to one man's fresh stab wounds to the stomach and hip. Another man had been stabbed in the back. Paramedics took the two to nearby hospitals, one to Tufts, the other to BMC.
Later, a third man walked into the Mass. General emergency room with a freshly sliced hand, Hernandez said.
Gallagher also arrived on scene. The restaurant has surveillance cameras, and he asked for copies of the video, but Coluzzi couldn't retrieve anything from them, because he didn't have the password. It turned out that didn't matter, though - Ferullo said the restaurant had installed a new recording system that, it turned out, was incompatible with several of the restaurant's cameras, so ithe system hadn't actually recorded anything from those cameras that day.
Coluzzi said that nothing at all appeared amiss up until the fight broke out. Both patrons and the seven other employees on duty that day seemed to be having a good time and nobody appeared to be intoxicated. But, again, he could not say what happened, and he said none of the employees he talked to had any idea, either.
"So essentially nobody saw anything?" board member Liam Curran asked. No, Coluzzi replied.
Ferullo said that because of the incident, Bastille Kitchen is shut again, and will stay shut until owners find somebody to present to the board as the official manager of record. They had hoped that would be Coluzzi, but now "Mr. Coluzzi is still contemplating that after his baptism of fire here," Ferullo said.
The board meets Thursday to decide whether the restaurant could have prevented the stabbings and, if so, whether any punishment is warranted.