The owner of the long shuttered Tonic says he's negotiating with the owners of a longstanding Wellesley Chinese restaurant to open a new location in his space across from the Forest Hills T stop.
Coran McCormack had to appear before the Boston Licensing Board this morning to explain why it shouldn't take away his liquor license, which has gone unused since he shut the bistro in December, 2012. If the board does grant McCormack more time, it will be at least the second time - last August, the board gave McCormack a reprieve after he said he was in negotiations with a Chicago-based chain of Italian restaurants.
McCormack's lawyer, Dennis Quilty, said those negotiations failed after months of meetings, and that offers from other proposed managers of the space also fell through. McCormack said he wants to retain ownership of the license and lease it, but that other operators have so far wanted him to carry a loan to finance their lease, which he said he's unwilling to do.
Quilty said he's more optimistic about current negotiations with the owners of the Wok - a Chinese restaurant on Rte. 9 that is similar to Brookline's Mandarin Gourmet. If the deal does go through, the new eatery - next door to an existing Chinese takeout place - would be the first sit-down Chinese restaurant in Boston's southwest corner in years.
Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer expressed some frustration, noting that McCormack is basically sitting on a scarce commodity that many other people would be more than happy to put to use almost immediately. She said McCormack's insistence that he retain ownership of the license hasn't worked out so well.
McCormack said he is equally frustrated, because he is losing money while the license goes unused and because he doesn't want to see his financial issues headlined on Eater Boston (ed. note: There were no Eater Boston reporters at the hearing, so let's just keep this among ourselves, 'kay?). He said if he can't find somebody to take over the Forest Hills location, he would consider just putting the license on the open market, where it could fetch up to $300,000.
McCormack said that in addition to the financial issues, some prospective tenants have been scared off by the prospect of traffic woes caused by the impending demolition of the nearby Casey Overpass. Last year, he blamed alcoholics loitering outside Tonic for scaring off customers.