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Wheeler's Market Manager Awaits Approval of Alcohol Licenses
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:53PM / Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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The License Board meets Monday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board approved the transfer of two alcohol licenses to the new owner of Wheeler's Market contingent on receiving legal information from the applicant's attorney regarding the rules around holding a pouring and a package store license at the same time.
 
Raj Patel of Wheeler's Market Inc. was before the board on Monday for approval of the transfer of both an annual wine and malt package store license and a seasonal all-alcohol package store license from Desiderata Packaged Goods LLC contingent on his attorney providing this information.
 
The board, consisting of Chairman Thomas Campoli, Vice Chairman Richard Stockwell, Dennis Powell, Dina Lampiasi, and Kathleen Amuso were hesitant to make the final approval without this contingency.
 
Wheeler's Market sits across from Pontoosuc lake, offering everything from convenience items to fresh made sandwiches. It has been owned for about a decade by Gregory Babich. Patel, of Seekonk, is purchasing the property and assets for $649,000 according to documents filed with the board. 
 
Patel is also involved in two other package stores — in Fall River and Swansea — and owns a hotel in Seekonk that has a restaurant and banquet hall that have been both been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
 
"In the pandemic, hotel businesses are hurting too much," Patel said. "Particularly, the banquet business is totally shut down.”
 
Patel stated that he would be working at Wheeler's for a total of 30 hours a week until a manager is put in place. Campoli asked about the management of his other holdings, and Patel said the two other package stores share a manager who holds the license but that his name is on the restaurant's license. However, that is in the process of being transferred to the longtime banquet manager.
 
Stockwell raised the question of whether Patel could hold the two different licenses under state law and referred to Babich, who he said had run into the same issue when he ran the Tavern at the A. 
 
"When we got the pouring license for the GEAA, we were told that we had to put that license in another name," Babich confirmed. "I don't know what the exact law is."
 
Campoli thought Stockwell could be right and asked that Patel's attorney, C. Beau Akers, research that information and return it to the board. Until then, the board voted to approve the transfer pending the further clarification. 
 
Stockwell suggested to Patel it would be easier for him if the transfers — the ones in Pittsfield and the one Seekonk — went to the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission at the same time. 
 
The board filed any action against Robert B. Skubel, operating as R.B.S. Automotive, related to a fine for violating conditions of his Class II Auto Dealer License after a show cause hearing.
 
Fire Lt. Randy Stein issued the noncriminal fire code fine of $100 to the 100 Linden St. business for vehicles not being in the approved spots. Stein said the fine was paid and he has checked back a couple of times.
 
"They are very close to perfect compliance," he told the board, with the exception of vehicle that was left at business that Skubel has had difficulty getting rid of. "We did give them the option to go to the Police Department and have it towed."
 
He said there were some tires that are being removed and a recommendation for customer and employee parking signage.
 
The property and the adjacent lot being used for parking are owned by Louis Costi, and Skubel said he was looking into having some trees removed on the lot to provide more space. He noted he has been in business for 26-27 years and that this was maybe the second time he'd had an issue. 
 
"If you check your records, this is not a constant thing of me coming in front of the board," he said. 
 
The board voted to table the matter with the potential for revisiting in the future if there are more violations. Campoli thanked Skubel for his diligence and patience. 
 
"We'll keep it clean, it sometimes gets out of hand but we'll take care of it," Skubel said. 
 
In other business, the board ratified Campoli's approval for sidewalk seating at The Lantern Bar & Grill for applicant Bjorn Somlo and extended a seasonal wine and malt package store license for Wohrle's Foods Inc. of 1619 East St. Campoli said manager Lynn Kessler had asked for an extension to Jan. 16, but that was one day beyond what the board could give under statute. The board amended and approved the extension to Jan. 15.
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