Steven Tedesco and his attorney Paul Crochiere reappeared
before selectmen last week to confirm Tedesco has decided to abandon his own
plans to open a pub at his Route 1 property and instead transfer the license to
a national restaurant chain interested in locating in Danvers.
Crochiere indicated that was a likely plan of action when he last appeared before the board in June, informing selectmen Tedesco had just been approached unsolicited by a company. He said a purchase and sale agreement has now been signed for the license.
That entity is Bonefish Grill, which is based out of Florida and has locations in 32 states. As the name implies, the restaurant’s specialty is grilled fish and a Danvers location would be Bonefish’s entre into Massachusetts.
Selectmen, however, weren't ready to hear any more
information on that front last Tuesday – they wanted to wait until an
application was submitted – and instead voiced differing opinions on Tedesco's
effort to now sell the license without ever having opened for business.
Board chairman Gardner Trask said the state “prohibits pocket licenses” – licenses that were never put into use and then sold to another party. He said he’ll closely scrutinize any sale transaction on this license and will have some “hard questions.”
“This is a store that never opened, never was. I understand grand plans, but it never was,” Trask said.
Tedesco, a Peabody resident, had faced months of delays on the project (through
no fault of his own), mainly because his license application was approved,
rejected and then approved again by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control
Commission due to an apparent mix-up in paperwork.
Danvers selectmen first approved the transfer of an all-alcohol license held by Miyako Japanese Steak House to Tedesco last June.
Crochiere told selectmen two months ago that Tedesco had to acquire new construction bids for the build-out and had invested a considerable amount into the project with little to show for it.
Board member Dianne Langlais said she was “really glad” to hear there was a definite plan for the license, but criticized Tedesco for acquiring the license with unpaid state taxes on it and apparently not checking beforehand.
Tedesco replied that he’s “not in the restaurant business” and thus didn’t know about a Certificate of Good Standing with the Department of Revenue.
Langlais didn’t quite believe that, suspecting there was some “game-playing” that went on. “No one goes to buy a liquor license and doesn’t check if it’s clean,” she said.
Selectman Dan Bennett remarked that the license has been in limbo for at least two years now, first due to inactivity at Miyako’s, which finally closed its doors in 2011 and now someone holds the license without any experience in the restaurant business.
Tedesco appeared ready to request a transfer of the license that night, but since the matter was only scheduled as a status update, selectmen told him to come back for the Sept. 3 meeting for a show cause hearing with either a transfer application or a request for an extension.
A six-month window in which Tedesco has to utilize the license expires Sept. 6. During the period of limbo, the space slotted for the restaurant has now been rented to another store.
The property in question (100 Newbury St.) is on the southbound side of Route 1 in an empty commercial strip mall next to North Shore Granite & Marble, which Tedesco operates. He purchased the entire property in 1999 and the vacant building was constructed in 2000, according to town records.
Tedesco's initial plans for a family pub style restaurant included 130 seats and 18 stools at the bar.