Chef Todd English says he hopes to re-open his fire-damaged Olives restaurant by July - but without the wood-fired ovens the place has used since it opened 21 years ago.
English told the Boston Licensing Board that after two fires - the last a grease fire last May - he realized he had to go with a new ventilation system - and gas-fired ovens.
English was before the board to explain why Olives has been shut - and its liquor license unused - for nearly a year. The board decides Thursday whether to grant English more time to repair Olives or strip him of the liquor license.
"If this happens again at any of your establishments, you need to tell us immediately," board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer told the celebrity chef, expressing frustration that English never told the board about the fire and his need for renovations. "Our rules have to be respected, regardless of who you are,"
English said he hopes work can start within a week or two to install a new ventilation system and gas lines for the new ovens.
He blamed the delay in starting work on problems getting money from his insurance company and the realization that the old building that houses Olives required extensive renovations.
English initially told the board he hoped to reopen in May or June, but pushed that back to July after his lawyer, Dennis Quilty tried to restrain his eagerness to reopen.
Board member Michael Connolly found even July optimistic: "I'll be fascinated if you open by July."