Desolate Allston corner to get fancy new restaurant as part of Harvard development

The company building Harvard's luxury residential building at Barry's Corner isn't waiting for construction to be finished before signing up a restaurant to move into the space.

Samuels and Associates appeared before the Boston Licensing Board yesterday to seek permission to buy Joshua Tree's liquor license for the "neighborhood restaurant concept" it hopes to bring to the project at 219 Western Ave.

The proposed license purchase was backed by the mayor's office, several city councilors and the Allston Civic Association.

But the board deferred any action because the proposed "manager" of the new license - a Samuels and Associates partner - did not attend for a required interview. Another Samuels official, Senior Vice President Leslie Cohen, said the company wants to buy the license only to attract a tenant, to which it would then sell it, and that the "manager" would not actually ever manage the restaurant. But rules are rules.

Cohen said her company is already talking to a dozen possible tenants for the 3,771-square-foot space.

Samuels attorney Joseph Hanley pointed to restaurants along Boylston Street in the Fenway - in buildings mostly managed by Samuels - as examples of the types of eateries that would move into the building, which in addition to housing the well heeled would also have retail space.

Although the board frowns on license holders not actually using their licenses, Hanley noted the board in the past has approved similar proposals in which developers snap up a license, then hold it until they can find a restaurant operator.

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Then what will happen to the space where Joshua's Tree was? Anyone taking that spot will likely have to try to find a liquor license somewhere else.