Restaurant owner Joe Cimino asked the Boston Licensing Board today for six to nine more months to get his Saratoga restaurant at 41 Fairfield open, but state Rep. Marty Walz told the board enough's enough and it's time to let somebody else have a crack at the restaurant's license.
Walz said it's unfortunate Cimino has run into a never-ending series of problems related to the building's age, historic nature and simple existence in the Back Bay - from wiring to handicap access to groundwater concerns - but said the six years he's had, coupled with the six years she says the previous owner didn't use the license, has exhausted the neighborhood's and the board's patience.
The city has only a limited number of liquor licenses to dole out - and the board has an informal policy of limiting the number of licenses in the Back Bay in accord with the wishes of the Back Bay Neighborhood Association. "We could be putting people to work" by giving somebody else the potentially lucrative license, she said.
The board decides Thursday whether to revoke Cimino's license for both the Fairfield Street license and one for Ciao Bella in the same building, around the corner on Newbury Street. Walz did not object to an extension for that restaurant. In March, the board revoked the liquor license for a restaurant at 45 Province St. downtown that had gone unused for a little more than two years.
Cimino and his lawyer, Karen Simao, said that in addition to problems related to the building itself, they've also run into scheduling issues because contractors will take on other work while waiting for other contractors to finish work at the site. Cimino gave as an example electricians who have to wait for masons to finish particular work. The city is also now demanding Cimino install an elevator to the building's second floor for disabled people.
While Cimino figuratively threw up his hands in frustration, board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer suggested he find new contractors who will not simply walk away for weeks at a time.
Although Cimino said he has all the permits he needs from a phone book's worth of city agencies, Walz said approval from the Back Bay Architectural Board expired several years ago and that he needs new permission from a trust that deals with groundwater preservation in the Back Bay and the South End.
Simao objected to Walz's assertions saying that she was not a member of any of the boards and could not speak for them. She added Cimino and his structural engineer would gladly give Walz a tour to show her the problems they keep running into.
Ferrer said the board had made its own inquiries of those boards, without saying what the answers were. Board member Suzanne Ianella said that was news to her.
While the board let Walz detail her reasons for opposing a license extension, the board politely told a representative from City Councilor Steve Murphy's office they didn't want to hear his reasons for supporting another license extension because he had nothing directly relevant to say about the construction delays.