Ownership imbroglio at Charlestown watering hole could delay plans to let downtown yuppies sip coffee beer

In one of those only-in-Boston things, plans for some licensing musical chairs in which a longtime Charlestown bar would sell its full liquor license to a Dominican restaurant in Roslindale, so it could in turn sell its beer and wine license to a coffeehouse in a boutique hotel in Downtown Crossing hit a last-minute snag today.

It turns out Old Sully's, 56 Union St. in Charlestown, has 14 shareholders, and not all of them approved the plans to shut the place and sell its liquor license to Guira & Tambora, 4014 Washington St. in Roslindale.

Until that's settled, the Roslindale restaurant won't sell its beer and wine license to George Howell Coffee, in the Godfrey Hotel at 505 Washington St. downtown. George Howell says it wants to offer a small selection of wines from "lesser known" vineyard and craft beers - including one beer made with coffee - to the post-dinner, post-theater crowd that "wants to have a conversation at a normal level," as its attorney, Joseph Devlin said.

All this emerged at Boston Licensing Board hearings this morning. In fact, the board was set to adjourn for the day, when Joe Sullivan, treasurer of the corporation that owns Old Sully's, rose to ask the sale be postponed.

Sullivan said the sale of the liquor license was never brought before a formal meeting of the corporation, and that the earliest that could happen is April 7, when the president returns north from Florida. Daniel Sullivan, one of the 14 shareholders, said it appeared 12 of the 14 are in favor of the sale.

The board is supposed to vote tomorrow on the liquor-license sales, but could defer action to let everybody come to a solution

That this is an issue at all is due to the way the number of liquor licenses in Boston is limited by the state legislature. With more demand than available licenses, restaurant and bar owners who want to serve alcohol have to go onto the open market, where licenses can go for high five figures for beer and wine licenses to low to mid six figures for full liquor licenses.

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So a downtown Boston spot can

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Customer: Can I have a glass of wine?
Waiter: Well, you see, there is this guy in Florida. He is one of 14 owners of a dive bar. Big golfer. Got his handicap down to 9 this year. Long story short, no, I can't serve wine.

What a system you have set up here, Massachusetts.

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Voting is closed. 29

What a bummer

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Didn't realize Old Sully's was closing - dive bars are disappearing left & right in Boston and it's kind incredibly disappointing. These are the true bars that shape Boston's identity.

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Voting is closed. 31

If you didnt know it was

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If you didnt know it was there. you didnt know it was there. Not a dive bar at all, at all.

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Voting is closed. 11

Wow

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Old Sully's is closing. When I first moved back to Boston, I planted myself there (or Sully's on Main St.) many nights to watch the B's. Good neighborhood spots, I'm sorry to see them go.

The old neighborhood has changed though. Sign of the times I guess.

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Voting is closed. 10

Name changed

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I'll be the first to admit I know basically nothing about Charlestown, let alone Charlestown holes in walls with no signs over their doors, so I went by the licensing-board agenda, which identified the place as:

SULLIVAN'S RESTAURANT, INC.
D/B/A: SULLIVAN'S RESTAURANT

I am also kicking myself because instead of "imbroglio," I should have gone with "brew-ha-ha," because, really, that's how I roll.

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Voting is closed. 24

That might be good, but that's not what they'll be serving

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I don't know what it is, but it comes in a bottle. I know that because the attorney made quite the point of saying that all the beers they serve would be in cans, except for one brand whose maker insisted on putting it only in bottles and they have to serve it because it's a coffee beer. He also emphasized the "craft beer" nature of it, which, maybe, at this point, leaves out anything by Sam Adams?

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Voting is closed. 11

Asking seriously, or snarkily?

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By the definition of most industry organizations (Brewers Association et al), the Boston Beer Company still counts as a craft brewer - they only sell about 5 million barrels a year in total, including their ciders and all other lines. To compare, that's about 1/5th of the amount of just Bud Light sold each year.

But if you're just slagging on them for being more mainstream and less innovative then they used to be...well, carry on.

(I wonder if the beer they're talking about is Berkshire Brewing Company's Coffeehouse Porter? Local, and very highly regarded. Smuttynose also markets a bottle-only coffee beer or three).

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Voting is closed. 13

Reminds me of an episode of

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Baa Baa Black Sheep in which they were doing some horse trading:

Now, we give two cases of scotch to this bomber group. The bomber group then gives these Aussie coastwatchers a dozen field telephones. The Aussie coastwatchers then gives the destroyer Clanton three bushels of fresh oysters. And then the Clanton gives us the engine oil.

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Voting is closed. 7