|Licensing Board Rescinds Johnny's Beach Club Liquor License
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:03PM / Tuesday, August 23, 2022
|The Pittsfield Licensing Board voted to rescind the alcohol license for the former Johnny's Beach Club after the owners failed to make any progress on selling or reconstructing the building over the past three years. The closed tavern on Wahconah Street was struck by a pickup last month and is slated to be taken down next week.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There is one less liquor license in Pittsfield.
On Monday, the Licensing Board voted to rescind Barcelona Tapas and Bar's annual all-alcohol license. Its former tavern, Johnny's Beach Club, has been closed for a number of years and, in 2019, the owners opted to put it on the market.
At the board's June meeting, owners were given two months to make a sale or the liquor license would be rescinded. Since then, the front section of the building was demolished after a pickup truck crashed into it and no sale has been made.
Attorney Jeffrey Lynch asked for a continuation, citing the city's efforts to revitalize Wahconah Park and the promise it could have for the area.
"I'm very cautious about the city taking the step to rescind these licenses. There's going to be we hope, a big project to revitalize Wahconah Park. All of these restaurants that you've just heard from tonight are in the downtown arts district, would be very supportive of a revitalized Wahconah ballpark," he said, referencing the number of nearby restaurants who were on the agenda for that night.
"I spoke to my client today, he's still very interested in that area, including the revitalization of Pepe's, we have Tahiti that's going to be looking for a new operator likely. All of these are within walking distance of Wahconah Park and I think it'd be a shame for the city to lose four liquor licenses that could help continue to support the revitalization."
He reported that the city has ordered for the building to be demolished, which is set to occur next week.
"I was before this board before, the owner of the license had the idea of, or has the idea, of rebuilding with mixed-use restaurant space downstairs, four-unit apartment building above and it was going back to last June where I represented that we were going to be able to have shovels in the ground by this time," Lynch explained.
"For a matter of reasons that I don't really have any excuse for other than building expenses and time, problems with my client, that they haven't been able to fulfill those plans."
He also reported that once the building is demolished, it has to go through the Conservation Commission before being rebuilt because the property is affected by wetlands and the floodplain.
Chairman Thomas Campoli said he hated to make the move, but thought that the license should be rescinded. Members looked back to the minutes where it was stated that the license would be taken at the August meeting if there was no progress.
"We've already said we're gonna do something if thus and such didn't happen and thus and such didn't happen, and now we're kicking the can down the road," Campoli said.
Board member Jody Phillips voted against the motion because she wanted more time to make the decision.
The panel did approve neighbor Tahiti Takeout's alcohol license transfer from owner Patricia Simonetta to manager Philip Paul.
Simonetta owns the building that the former Tahiti Takeout occupied and wants to reopen the eatery and seek a new owner for the entire property. She resides out of state and has hired Paul, her former husband, to manage the building.
"She currently has a tenant there that was operating Tahiti Takeout, that tenant has no intention of reopening and will not reopen," Paul explained. "So they've made an arrangement where Patricia will apply for that liquor license and forgive some of the back rent that the tenant owes then call it a day."
The property has been owned by Simonetta for more than 30 years and has two tenants in the upstairs apartments. She reported that there is a potential promise of a buyer.
"I'm in negotiations now with somebody who wants to open up a restaurant and he very much knows hospitality," Simonetta said. "Knows who is accountable, has financial awareness of it all, and has financial backing."
In other business:
The board approved the transfer of Friend's Grille's liquor license to MRK 42 LLC doing business as Seymour Park LLC. It had approved the petition in the winter but there was an issue with the application because the new owner is out of New York. He also had to resubmit paperwork with his full name, Dror David Kahn.
A buyer has purchased the assets of Tito's Mexican Grille but is unable to secure the purchase of the liquor license from its former owners, who are believed to have abandoned the license and moved out of town. He was advised to seek an alternate source for a liquor license and has been able to locate one but cannot file a transfer application with an outstanding license.
The board will send a letter out to the original owners notifying them that they will rescind the license if an action isn't made.