LEWISTON — Members are beginning to wonder why the doors to the South End Social Club are closed, according to treasurer Cherie Gagnon.

She hopes they’ll be open before too long.

“It’s been a strain on some of our members and we have bills that need to be paid, but we’re doing what we can,” Gagnon said Thursday. “They miss the place. It’s like a second home to a lot of them.”

The club, at 315 Lisbon St., has been closed since last week, when police cited the club and Gagnon specifically for serving liquor without a valid license. Gagnon said the club has been a victim of a misunderstanding about liquor license requirements.

Gagnon and partner Debbie Alberts took over as treasurer and president, respectively, in May. The club’s liquor license expired Dec. 31, but Gagnon said previous leaders told her there was a grace period between when the old license expires and the new one is required.

There are no grace periods for liquor licenses, according to state Liquor Licensing Supervisor Jeff Austin.

“Now we know better, that we should have checked with officials instead of trusting the word of someone else,” Gagnon said.

The club continued to serve alcohol until Jan. 26. A Lewiston police officer noticed that alcohol was being delivered that day, checked with the City Clerk’s office, and closed the club.

Gagnon was given a summons for a Class E offense, serving alcohol without a license.

City councilors on Monday voted to approve the club’s liquor license, but Police Chief Michael Bussiere said the state Liquor Licensing and Inspections unit had the final authority.

Supervisor Austin confirmed that licensing inspectors had met with Gagnon and Alberts on Wednesday. He said the officials were withholding the license and considering having the club apply as a Class A lounge, not a social club. That’s a more expensive application and would allow anyone old enough to drink to come in.

“We don’t want that at all,” Gagnon said. “We’ll fight that as much as we can. We don’t want people standing around smoking outside, or drinking outside. We lose the ability to control who goes in or out if we’re not a membership club, so we’ll fight to stay that way.”

Gagnon said the group was unable to find a signed copy of the club’s bylaws to prove their status. They met with the club’s membership Thursday night and were considering rewriting the bylaws and getting the new version signed.

The club has been in operation since 1957. It currently lists 250 members, Gagnon said.

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