|License Transfers Pave Way for New Pittsfield Businesses|
|By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent|
12:28AM / Wednesday, August 22, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board approved the transfer of two of its annual all-alcohol licenses, and looks forward favorably to a third, in the hopes of allowing new businesses to open in three currently vacant or inoperative commercial properties.
In unanimous votes Monday, the board endorsed the transfer of licenses from Eddie Johnson's Package Store to the new Berkshire Liquors & Variety, and from Brulees to the planned J. Allen Clubhouse Grille.
Berkshire Liquors hopes to open soon in the space formerly occupied by Tyler Home Supply, a location which has been vacant for about two years. The new venture will be operated by Cara Peaslee, former owner of Zen's Dog House, and brother Christopher Gian, current owner of Zenner's Package and Variety, also on Tyler, and the new Green Acres Package and Variety in Cheshire.
"What they have planned is a high-scale package store that has a lot of areas," said attorney Anthony Massimiano, representing the applicants. "They intend to have a fully stocked variety store and also to stock fine wines and liquors."
The proposed business, if it secures all permitting, will cover a square footage of 5,500 on the main floor of the 711 Tyler St. building, and an additional 500 in the basement. They plan to be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, and are approved to sell alcoholic beverages beginning at 8 a.m. from Monday through Saturday, and afternoons on Sunday.
The board also approved, with slightly greater hesitation and discussion, a proposal by Patrick's Pub co-owner David Powell to launch a new venture, called J. Allen's Clubhouse Grille, in the 41 North St. restaurant space last occupied by Brulee LLC, and before that by Bobby Hudpucker's.
J. Allen's is intended to be less dinner oriented than Powell's other restaurant, and more recreational, with a lighter fare menu, a jukebox, and an estimated 20 televisions, some of which will be set to the BuzzTime electronic trivia game, where patrons can compete against others in the restaurant as well with a national network of users. The menu will not offer full entrees, but consist of things like burgers, sandwiches and salads, with the only carry over from the Patrick's Pub menu being its chicken wings.
Some board members expressed apprehensions over one specific component of the new venture, however, with the inclusion of a game room near the rear of the establishment, and asked repeatedly to what extent it will be monitored. Powell said the room, which will have one or two tables of seating, eight to 10 arcade-style games, and one pool table, will be monitored by both servers and managers on duty, as well as having a closed-circuit camera that will feed to the main bar.
Chairman Carmen Massimiano called the game room component "troubling," but agreed with the concensus of the board that the management has been succesful and largely free of issues at Patrick's Pub.
"There are a lot of little red flags, and we don't want them to become big flags," Massimiano warned Powell.
"I think it's relevant that not only have you been successful at Patrick's," said board member Thomas Campoli, in support of Powell's application, "But you've been able to increase the business, and still keep an eye on it, and run it well."
The suspension of the liquor license for Hermann Alexander's at 24 Lyman St. was lifted in the hopes of aiding an expected sale to new owners.
At two previous hearings, bar owner Mitchel Grossjung was advised by the board to sell his license, following complaints by Pittsfield Police alleging the bar was at the center of a large cocaine-distribution conspiracy.
Though law enforcement last month said charges would most likely be filed against Grossjung by its August meeting, no charges have yet been issued. Lt. Michael Grady, however, told the board Monday that this process is still moving forward at the district attorney's office. Likewise, no charges have yet been issued following a July 31 hearing before the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston.
The proposed new establishment would be a restaurant, not a bar, and would be "very family oriented, very kid friendly," according to the building's landlord, Philip Massery, who spoke in favor of the proposed new business.
"I want to be their landlord, and I want them to be my tenant," said Massery, who endorsed the transfer as an ideal solution for the troubled location.
The prospective new owners said they will need about 60 days to get their financing in order to purchase the license. The board voted to undo the extended suspension, on the condition that Hermann Alexander's is not to reopen, even for private parties.