BURLINGTON - Rosa Mexicano, an upscale Mexican restaurant set to take over the former Besito space in Burlington Mall, may have hit a snag in its liquor license transfer process.
The exact tenant space used to be occupied by another high-end Mexican eatery, Besito, which closed in July 2018, leaving the space vacant up until last night.
After several years, Rosa Mexicano eventually became the primary tenant prospect for the former Besito space and the restaurant earned unanimous approval from the Planning Board on Sept. 2.
From that point, Rosa Mexicano hoped to get Besito’s liquor license formally transferred to them through the Select Board process, needing the board’s vote of approval. This process began this past Monday night, as the Select Board opened the hearing about transferring Besito’s liquor license to Rosa Mexicano.
It didn’t take long for the Select Board to pick up where they left off with the Fogo de Chão liquor license transfer request, which was also for the Besito license. Fogo sought Besito’s license for the past year, though they are locating elsewhere in Burlington Mall. The conflict raised by the Select Board revolves around the Burlington Mall currently having nine liquor licenses available, but Fogo de Chão applied for Besito’s license which came via the town of Burlington. It is the last available liquor license the town has at this time, so the Select Board wants to do everything they can to preserve it for a more applicable scenario, likely somewhere else in town besides the Burlington Mall, who has nine available liquor licenses. Fogo adhered to the Select Board and applied for one of the mall’s other liquor licenses, resulting in a unanimous approval from the board almost immediately after filing the new transfer application.
Well, history is repeating itself because the Select Board is now asking Rosa Mexicano to do exactly what Fogo did just one month ago.
“I do not know why we have to use a town license for this, when the Burlington Mall has [eight] licenses for this use,” lectured Select Board member Joseph Morandi. “I want Besito’s license to be used elsewhere. It is the town’s last liquor license.”
Three years ago, Burlington Town Meeting approved a warrant article granting Burlington Mall site-specific liquor licenses. The mall has used several of them for restaurants, including Parm, Common Craft, and Gyu-Kaku, among others. Yet, town officials confirmed eight remain, which is why the Select Board is standing firm in its viewpoint to urge Rosa Mexicano to reapply for one of the mall’s liquor licenses instead of moving forward with Besito’s license.
“We have to make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the town,” emphasized Select Board Chair James Tigges. “It is no secret there are numerous Burlington Mall liquor licenses available, and only one for the rest of the town.”
Local attorney Mark Vaughan, of Reimer & Braunstein, representing Rosa Mexicano, remarked the mall “wants” to use their remaining site-specific liquor licenses for the new developments on the property, such as the old Sears building that is under construction and will house restaurants and retail tenants. Vaughan also pointed out that the town center has eight liquor licenses available.
With all that being acknowledged, the Select Board pressed harder and it’s looking like Rosa Mexicano has no choice but to entertain the idea of heeding the board’s recommendation and applying for one of the mall’s site-specific liquor licenses.
“We know there are mall licenses available because we have not approved them all,” stated Select Board member Robert Hogan.
The hearing was continued to the board’s meeting on Oct. 25.