December 19 2017

Beer Works Given One Month to Show Progress at Liquor License Revocation Hearing

By: Rich Hosford

A long-anticipated new restaurant in town has been given another month to show definitive signs of progress in its march towards opening or risk losing its liquor license.


Burlington Beer Works, which was approved to move into the former Outback Steakhouse in January of 2016, was before the Board of Selectmen on Monday for a liquor license revocation hearing. The hearing was approved by the board at its last meeting in November when it brought three businesses with liquor license that weren’t be used before it for explanations.


Attorney Paul Sporn, who was representing Beer Works owner Joseph Slesar of Slesar Brothers Brewing Company, said the reason for the delay was finishing up the building permit process. He said currently the Board of Health is requiring the business get a variance from the Planning Board for a grease trap provision. He said they are scheduled to be before the Planning Board on Thursday, January 9 for the variance. Sporn said all the other paperwork has been filed and all the fees have been paid.


Still, board members were unhappy with how long the project has taken to get started. Selectman Jim Tigges pointed out that when Sporn was before the board on November 27 he had said that by the revocation hearing they would be “ready to start construction immediately.” Sporn said the hold-up was the issue with the grease traps and the variance that should be settled in January.


Despite the assurances, some board members continued to press the point.


“It’s been two to three years,” Selectman Joseph Morandi said. “Why can’t you get it done?”


Sporn said that unlike many of the restaurant groups that move into Burlington, Slesar Brewing is a small, family owned, operation. He insisted Joseph Slesar was working in good faith to get the project completed as soon as possible.


Morandi expressed doubt.


I think he is sitting on his hands,” he said. “I think he’s playing a big game with us.”

Sporn disagreed and said that if all goes as expected at the Planning Board meeting in November and the company then gets the building permit, they will start construction immediately and likely be done with the renovation work by June.

“I believe it is in the town’s interest, at least in my opinion, to allow the Building Department to proceed so we can start construction and open in June and start creating revenue,” he said.

Selectman Mike Runyan said that with all the changes going on at the Crossroads Plaza, where Boston Beer Works will be located, including a new wine “superstore” and a small-version Target comin in, that it would be best to get this project done as soon as possible.

“This area is under a lot of flux and think it’s in the best interest for the town to see the Beer Works move quickly,” he said. “So I’m not interested in revoking the license.”

In the end the board voted to give the project another month by continuing the hearing to the meeting on Monday, January 22. At that time, selectmen said, they expected to have a date for when work would begin. Sporn said they were required to start within 10 days of receiving the building permit, per an agreement with the landlord, so would likely have work underway shortly after the Planning Board meeting.


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