March 12 2019

Burlington Beer Works Given Six Months to Use or Transfer Liquor Life or Face Cancellation Hearing

By: Rich Hosford

A liquor license holder who had planned to open a restaurant in town has six months to either open up shop or transfer the license to a third party or they will face a cancellation of the license.


As reported on BNEWS, last year the Board of Selectmen voted to revoke the liquor license for Slesar Bros. Brewing Company due to a long delay starting work on the Burlington Beer Works project in the Crossroads Plaza at 34 Cambridge Street. However, earlier this year the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Compliance Commission (ABCC) said in a decision following a January 10 hearing that the town did not give the licensee sufficient time to either start operating its business or to attempt to transfer it to another entity. According to ABCC regulations the license authority, in the case the selectmen, must give six months warning.  


The board had given more than six months notice that they were considering revoking the license but due to some technicalities in the wording a January, 2018 warning was not accepted by the BACC as meeting their requirements.


This week the issue was back before the board. Attorney Paul Sporn, representing Slesar Bros., said his client has hired a broker to try and find another entity to take on the license but had not yet found anyone. He said one reason might be that the license had been revoked by the board before that decision was overturned at the state level.


“I think my client was constrained previously by the stamp of having the license revoked,” he said. “It made it difficult.”


Sporn added that from here on out he and his client hope to work with the town, the landlord and the community to get the process done.


“I hope that we can go forward without doing anything that would further cloud a good-faith effort,” he said.


Board Chair Chris Hartling said the selectmen are interested in one of three outcomes: for the business to open, the license transferred to a third party somewhere in town or another entity takes over the same location and the license and opens there.


“Failing to hit one of those goals, after six months we would hold a cancellation hearing,” Hartling said. “I’m hopeful it won’t come to that but that would be the recourse if one of those three options doesn’t become available.”


Since it was clear from previous statements that the Burlington Beer Works would not open the second best option, Hartling said, was for another entity to open in the same location.


However, Sporn reiterated previous arguments he had made about the location, which had undergone a lot of changes since Beer Works was first proposed, including the closing of Roche Bros. and the opening of Target. He said the fact that nobody else had sought to go in there shows there are challenges facing the site.


The board ended the discussion by continuing the public hearing until October 7, 2019 to consider the cancellation of the license if one of the three requirements is not met.


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