BURLINGTON – It has been anything but positive news for Burlington Beer Works since initially announcing they wanted to locate in town.
That notion continued at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting where the members voted to continue a public hearing to consider the cancellation/revocation of Beer Works’ liquor license.
In September 2017, after formally announcing they will not be occupying the former Outback space in Burlington Crossroads on Cambridge Street, the selectmen voted unanimously to revoke their liquor license at a Liquor License Revocation/Show Cause Public Hearing.
Paul Sporn, attorney for Slesar Bros. Brewing Company (owner of Beer Works), was the man who informed the selectmen that Burlington Beer Works will not be moving forward with its previously approved location in the former Outback space, and he was back in front of the selectmen to save the company’s valuable liquor license for the third time since September 2017.
After approving the license in April 2016, the selectmen really wanted to know what was going on at the site as it remains vacant and untouched since Outback left in July 2015. The former Outback location is located in the Burlington Crossroads retail center in between AAA and Marshalls.
Burlington Beer Works came very close to losing its liquor license during the course of the last two years, but the selectmen did not revoke it after it was mutually agreed upon that the company would be open by February 2018, which obviously did not happen.
Sporn has cited numerous reasons why his client never moved into the Burlington Crossroads, including the massive overhaul that took place in the retail plaza since Beer Works was approved several years ago. Slesar Bros. Brewing Company preferred previous tenants stay, such as Roche Bros., Busa Liquors, and Bauer Hockey.
Beer Works continues working with EDENS, property owner of Burlington Crossroads, in hopes of finding adequate avenues for selling the liquor license, which cost Slesar Brewing Bros. $195,000 when they purchased it in 2016.
Sporn regretfully confirmed the liquor license was up for auction recently and received zero bids. This was a surprise to all parties with Slesar Bros. Brewing Company “aggressively” marketing the license through Atlantic License Brokers, the largest license broker in Massachusetts. The zero bids result came long before the COVID-19 pandemic, so now the prospects of finding a buyer are as daunting as one could imagine.
“The license has not been sold. The restaurant industry is in flux in America with entities closing and/or going through a makeover from top to bottom,” Sporn told the board. “I am here tonight to say a revocation of this license serves no interest of any party. It is not sound policy and would be punitive. My client is a family-owned, small operator who employs 200 employees at their six locations. They spent $195,000 on the license, and if it is lost, that would be a big hit to the company.”
Sporn further remarked that a revocation by the selectmen would “likely” result in an appeal. However, Sporn quickly mentioned a proposal to continue the public hearing again, which was fully supported by EDENS.
“I appreciate the courtesy of the Board of Selectmen and we are willing to work with you to see an efficient resolution crafted,” voiced Sporn.
Though disappointed and rather disgruntled about the former Outback still vacant after three years, the selectmen sympathized with Slesar Bros. Brewing Company being a small business that might potentially lose the $195,000 invested in their liquor license. Under the guise of a unified front, the selectmen agreed to give Beer Works until December to make progress on the sale of the license.
“By continuing this, all we are doing is being good neighbors,” insisted Selectman Chair Joseph Morandi, who was told by Town Administrator Paul Sagarino that the Selectmen have done everything to cooperate and there is no benefit in continuing the hearing. “I understand that [$195,000] is a lot of money for a small business owner.”
The Selectmen unanimously approved a motion to continue this public hearing to its meeting on Monday, Oct. 26, where they will again consider a revocation of the liquor license.