Landlord seeks new club to replace Felt, shut by state over ownership screwup


The owners of a Washington Street building that has been home to a restaurant or nightclub for decades say they have at least five serious potential operators who want to replace Felt, shut by state authorities earlier this year when they discovered the people running the club were not the same people listed as its owners.

Lawyers for the landlord - the Beldekas family - and for the two ownership groups listed in different documents as Felt's owners appeared before the Boston Licensing Board asking for some time to straighten out the ownership mess so that the Beldekases can find a new operator for the club, which has been in operation under a variety of names since 1960.

Liquor-license holders are not supposed to just sit on licenses and have to ask the licensing board for permission to seek new buyers or operators. The liquor license is the club's only real asset and without it, the family might not be able to find a new tenant for the space. Because of a state limit on the number of liquor licenses in Boston, licenses now typically go for $300,000 on the open market.

At issue is an ownership change in 2009, when Felt Enterprises LLC transferred ownership of Felt to Felt Enterprises, Inc., which had some of the same principals, but also some new owners. Only nobody notified the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which finally noticed the discrepancy this year and shut the place down.

The lawyers asked for six months to find a new operator and get it up and running. Board member Suzanne Ianella shook her head in disbelief. Ianella and the other two board members vote Thursday on whether to give the ownership groups more time and, if so, how much.

This afternoon, Felt had a small "For Rent" sign in one of its front windows.



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Licenses should not be assets.

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This is a practice that really needs to be phased out. Liquor licenses and taxi medallions should be non-transferrable, and not become capital assets that can be traded for huge profits.

Thanks, updated original post

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They mentioned the Adams House. The lawyer was busy reciting a list of every single place that had occupied the space since when Ferrer gently told him to get to his next point.

It actually has a VERY long history

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This may well be the oldest site in Boston for dining and drinking. Its history as a public house goes back to 1745 when the Lamb Tavern opened, actually a few doors away where the Paramount Theatre is now (at 555 Washington St.). In 1844 the old Lamb Tavern was torn down and replaced with the Adams House, a hotel as well as a restaurant and bar. The Adams House went through two buildings on the site before it was torn down for the Paramount (which opened in 1932). At that time the Adams House's owners moved down the street, gave up the hotel business, and became just a restaurant and bar called the New Adams House. Yes, they were still in business in the 1970s, maybe even the '80s, as Ron has noted. If I recall correctly, there was another nightclub on the site between the New Adams House and Felt.

The building itself goes back to the 1870s or '80s; and a 1938 atlas says that it was owned by the "President & Fellows of Harv. College", presumably as an investment property. Harvard once owned a lot of buildings in downtown Boston.

Bonehead regulators

Aren't there enough For Rent, For Lease, and For Sale signs on Washington Street for the mayor? Can they think of any new ways to kill social and night life? Make it harder and more expensive to do business? Were any of the different owners convicted felons at least so to justify the action? Which one of their friends wanted one of the too constricted number of liquor licenses freed up?

You can't blame the mayor for this one

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The ABCC is strictly a state agency. And none of this would have happened if the ownership had just filed the damn paperwork - in fact, to help the process along, the landlord actually reduced their rent a couple years back, so it's not like the Otherside Cafe situation.

Technically, the Boston Licensing Board is a state agency as well - its members are appointed by the governor (although their offices and hearings are in City Hall, their stationery has the city seal on it and the current chairwoman used to work in the city legal department).