The Boston Licensing Board voted yesterday to cancel the liquor license for a still unopened restaurant at the 45 Province luxury high-rise project.
45 Province spent $225,000 for a liquor license in 2008 in anticipation of finding somebody to operate the three-story restaurant it was including in its development. But with the economy fading, the restaurant operator with whom the developers had been negotiating couldn't get financing.
At a hearing Tuesday, the developers pleaded with the board for 90 more days to try to find somebody, saying that with the economy and Downtown Crossing both showing signs of recovery, they were beginning to get more inquiries into the space. They said they were even willing to reduce rents in an attempt to get a restaurant going, in part because condo buyers had been promised private access to the restaurant. Without a liquor license, finding somebody to open a restaurant there would prove even more difficult, they said.
However, liquor-license owners are supposed to use it or lose it - they are not allowed to just sit on licenses and, in fact, face hearings if police notice their establishments are closed.
Board member Michael Connolly seemed willing to grant an extension, because the winter after Christmas is a rough time for the restaurant business, but board members Nicole Murati Ferrer and Suzanne Ianella questioned the fairness of letting 45 Province continue to not use the license when there were other restaurants across the city that could use the license right away. The number of liquor licenses in Boston is limited by state law and the board currently has no free licenses to grant.
45 Province can appeal the board's decision to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and, after that, file a suit in Suffolk Superior Court, so the board's vote doesn't mean it will immediately offer the license to somebody else.
In a separate vote, the board agreed to give the owners of the shuttered Nonna's Market on North Street in the North End 90 days to find an investor and re-open their shop, which has a beer and wine license, in another location. Unlike 45 Province, Nonna's had been open for business until last month.