Failed bar could turn into sit-down Chinese restaurant in Forest Hills

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.

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Comments

Tonic's issues weren't loitering winos

You can point to a lot of possible maladies: a concept that was too fancy and nightclubby for the neighborhood, a kitchen that struggled with consistency issues early on, a tussle over food concept and price point that led to a swift departure of the opening chef and further kitchen problems, the dire decision to blare awful house-music videos on the TVs on weekends instead of sports or other less-offensive programming. I liked it alright early on when I reviewed it for Stuff while noting some of these problems. Better a middlebrow American-Chinese place in there than an idle space.

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Construction = hungry construction workers

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I agree with your critique of Tonic, made worse by the owner's hostility to customer feedback. It's too bad, there was a lot of goodwill in the neighborhood when it first opened. Hopefully if a Chinese place is moving in, it won't be terrible. I'll be sorry if it pushes out the existing place, which could have done well if they'd spiffed up the decor and made it welcoming as a sit down location. Right now it's a little scary.

Earlier today I noticed signs in a storefront on that block that an Indian restaurant is coming soon.

While Casey Arborway construction surely won't be fun, there will be a steady stream of construction workers on the site for 2 years, same with the pending construction of the adjacent housing development project, the Commons I think it's called. They'll want lunch.

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where?

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Which storefront is going to be Indian food? That'd be a great addition.

I'd really love a pho or more broadly a noodle-focused place along the strip there. And burritos -- Anna's or something similar.

Sorry, but no.

If you want to try to impose conditions on the market which aren't acceptable (he continues to own the license, not sell it), then tough luck if the invisible hand of the market gives you the finger.

Yet another piece of evidence supporting a drastic revision of liquor license rules at the expense of the current stake holders.

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Quilty said he's more

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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.

What is the name of the restaurant?

Wok N Talk - South Huntington Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA ?‎
or
Wok Wellesley - 180 Worcester St, Wellesley, MA ?

Two very different places... ‎

There is sit down Chinese

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There is sit down Chinese Restaurant half a mile from there: JP Kitchen. Has been there for years.

Do they have more than a couple tables?

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I mean, technically, you could eat at that place across from Forest Hills as well, but maybe I should change the phrase to something like "places that primarily serve sit-down meals rather than takeout"?

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Sit down Chinese, nuts to

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Sit down Chinese, nuts to that. How about: noodle place, dumpling place, tacos, veggie galaxy.. I think we can come up with something better than "sit down Chinese".