July 22. 2013 9:32PM

Manchester Mayor Gatsas bites back on KC's Rib Shack tiki bar closing

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — City inspectors will only be able to order the immediate closure of a business with the approval of a department head, under a directive issued by Mayor Ted Gatsas Monday.

The change is in response to the shutdown of the outdoor patio at KC's Rib Shack earlier this month. Among a dozen violations, a code enforcement officer found the restaurant's tiki bar did not have proper plumbing and that the bar and deck had been constructed without permits.

KC's owner, Kevin Cornish, and Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo charged that the immediate shutdown, which occurred days before the busy Fourth of July weekend, was an overreaction, especially since Cornish had shown a willingness to address the issues and had no prior violations.

The restaurant's outdoor patio had approved seating for 125 people, nearly half of its total capacity.

Gatsas was also troubled that Cornish was forced to shut down the patio, and last week the restaurant was allowed to serve people outside, but with a lower seating cap of 40 people. On Monday Gatsas convened a meeting with the heads of departments responsible for business inspections.

"No cease and desist orders can happen without somebody at the top making those orders. If somebody thinks it's important enough, they can have a department head come down and sign off," Gatsas said.

The change is an administrative order, Gatsas said, and doesn't require the approval of the aldermen.

Still, Greazzo intends to bring up the matter at the next meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in early August.

"There were folks in those positions who went far beyond their job descriptions to go after a business at the most inopportune time," Greazzo said. "If department heads didn't know what they were doing that's a problem, and I'd like see what corrective action can be taken. This is a thing I've been talking about my entire time on the board: why is our city business climate so toxic?"