Central Café closed by state agency after gang violence

Central Café was closed following an incident of gang violence on May 16. (CentralCafeCT.com)

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

Central Café in downtown Plainville, located at 54 West Main St., has been suspended indefinitely by the Department of Consumer Protection’s liquor control division. The decision comes on the heels of a motorcycle gang brawl resulting in two injured patrons on May 16.

The Plainville Police Department dispatched its entire evening shift of officers to the scene of the incident.

According to the suspension order, officers had observed numerous motorcyclists wearing known gang insignia, specifically some individuals wearing black leather vests with red devil faces and the inscription, “Diablos,” and others wearing black leather vests with white lettering reading, “Outlaws.”

“The police know the Diablos and Outlaws to be dueling outlaw motorcycle clubs,” states the suspension order. “Up to 20 motorcyclists were observed fleeing the premise at high rates of speed and driving over lawns, driving down the wrong side of the road, and driving around other vehicles in an unsafe manner, all while disobeying officer’s signals.”

The suspension order states the bar owner, Roger Papallo, acknowledged that he is friends with numerous members of the Outlaws. Police stated to Papallo that it “appears that the Central Café is being operated as a ‘gang’ bar,’” and Papallo replied, “Yeah.”

Plainville chief of police Matthew Catania reported in a letter to liquor control director John Suchy that the department is aware of two similar recent incidents at the premise involving motorcycle gang violence, and described circumstances as a “volatile and dangerous situation.”

“It is not likely that we have seen the last of this type of behavior at this location,” Catania wrote in the letter. He also wrote to town manager Robert Lee, and stated concern that Central Café is “welcoming the gang members in with their colors displayed.”

Catania also wrote that Papallo is not police-friendly nor well-equipped to deal with the crowd from the May 16 event or previous similar events.

“It is common knowledge at this point that Papallo has friends in the Outlaws motorcycle gang,” Catania wrote. “His actual involvement with the gang has not been determined.”

When officers arrived at the scene on May 16, they observed one patron bleeding profusely from a deep laceration on the right side of his head and a human bite mark on his arm. His head injuries reportedly were consistent with being hit by a blunt object. He claimed he was “hanging out” and was “jumped” but refused to provide additional details.

A second patron was bleeding slightly from a laceration on the right side of his head. This patron was known to police and an associate of the Outlaws, and refused to cooperate with police.

An anonymous witness informed police that members of the Outlaws were on the outside patio of the premise when a significant number of Diablos drove into the parking lot quickly, disembarked from their motorcycles and ran toward the patio. Those individuals then jumped the fence that enclosed the patio and began attacking Outlaws.

Police had to request and receive mutual aid from three surrounding towns to secure the scene, where several motorcyclists remained, some shouting obscenities at police. More motorcyclists arrived, whom police believed to be reinforcements.

“When police break up a biker crowd just after a violate assault, we experience motorcycles driving recklessly from the scene, putting on a show of defiance,” wrote Catania in an email to Lee. “The riders [on May 16] were shouting at the police profanities and threats. This type of activity presents a very real danger to the involved parties, the police, but even more so to the innocent people who happen to be walking/driving by when the mass exodus occurs.”

The DCP suspension order stated it finds that public health, safety and welfare imperatively required emergency action.

“I want to thank the Plainville Police Department for their work and cooperation in this matter,” said DCP commissioner Michelle Seagull in a press release. “Patrons in Connecticut should be able to feel safe when they visit liquor establishments in our state, and this type of incident puts that safety in jeopardy. We take these matters very seriously at DCP.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.