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Bonefish Grill Eyes Danvers as Perfect Fit for New Eatery

The national restaurant chain is looking at setting up shop next to Burlington Coat Factory on Route 114.

Danvers selectmen agreed Tuesday night to give Steven Tedesco another six months before taking action on his liquor license in hopes that plans and applications will be forthcoming from the company interested in purchasing the license instead.

Tedesco, a Peabody resident, had planned to open his own pub within a commercial development at 100 Newbury St., but ran into some unanticipated and prolonged hurdles with his license that delayed that project for more than a year.

In the meantime, representatives for a national restaurant chain approached Tedesco this spring about buying his license.

Bonefish Grill is interested in opening its first Massachusetts location in Danvers, according to Tedesco’s attorney, Paul Crochiere. Another attorney and a broker representing that company accompanied Tedesco and Crochiere at Tuesday's hearing.

Attorney Tom Demakis told selectmen that Bonefish Grill is "dead serious" about making the deal work with Tedesco, so much so that a sizable deposit was made on the purchase price for the license and half of that was then made nonrefundable.

That price was not disclosed Tuesday and neither did the board or Town Clerk Joe Collins receive any paperwork indicating what it was, although Selectman Dianne Langlais said she had seen a number that was surprising to her.

Demakis said Bonefish Grill is owned by the same company that runs the Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill and is essentially the seafood component to that mix.

"[Bonefish] is very anxious to come to Danvers to do business," Demakis said, adding that the company believes it would be a "tremendous benefit to the town" both by employing dozens of local workers and ensuring a professionally run operation in the same vein as Outback and Carrabba's. Both those restaurants are actually located in Peabody.

"I think it’s a good marriage between a first class company and a first class town," Demakis said -- Danvers was apparently at the top of the company's list for Massachusetts locations. The other two will likely be in Burlington and Waltham, he said.

The potential location for the new seafood eatery in Danvers is right on the line with Peabody. Demakis said the company is leasing a space for a 5,200-square-foot building next to the Burlington Coat Factory, which is in Peabody.

The building would be entirely in Danvers, although the parking might be split between both communities, acknowledged Demakis.

Crochiere said the company approached Tedesco unsolicited, and after some initial back-and-forth, negotiations resulted in a signed purchase and sale agreement in early August.

They sought the extension on the license in order to allow Bonefish to file its paperwork with the town and hopefully wrap up negotiations with a third party on a lease for the parking. The deadline loomed because the license hasn't been used since Tedesco finally received it in March.

Crochiere also sought to dispel any notion that "Tedesco was some sort of carpetbagger who has come into town to speculate."

He said Tedesco has owned the property on Route 1 for more than 12 years and spent more than $2 million between purchasing and developing it -- this isn't a speculation scheme in which Tedesco is just trying to make a quick profit or cut his losses and leave town.

Board chairman Gardner Trask said he didn't think Tedesco was a "carpetbagger," although he did have a particular problem with the license being sold without ever having been put into use since Tedesco purchased it from the owners of the former Myako Japanese Steakhouse.

All told, the license has been in limbo for about 2-1/2 years, selectmen noted Tuesday night, and they were anxious to move forward with a definite plan to remedy that situation.

Trask, however, indicated that if the deal with Bonefish Grill were to fall through, he would not be inclined to give Tedesco another extension.

Selectman Bill Clark said the seafood restaurant would be a good fit for the "miracle mile" on Route 114 and introduce some more variety than just car dealerships.

As for the location, as long as the building remains in town, that ensures Danvers will get the meals tax revenues, quipped Clark.

One other issue at hand was whether the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission would view the situation as a "pocket license" since Tedesco had never used it before selling it. Board members ultimately said that's for the ABCC to decide and didn't want to prolong the situation any further by speculating upon that.

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