Alex Matov, whose Garage nightclub on Linden Street in Allston was ordered shut last year after a series of violent incidents, is asking the Boston Licensing Board to let him sell the place's liquor license to a new nightclub operator, who would re-open the club and run it until Matov can gain the financing he needs to replace the building with a new apartment complex - one that might have room for a nightclub of its own.
At a hearing Tuesday, Matov and his attorney told a skeptical board that he would have nothing to do with the operation of the reopened club.
"This operator or any affiliate will not be at any time be operating this license," attorney Lesley Delaney Hawkins said.
At a meeting yesterday, the board voted to begin the process to strip Matov of his license and offer it to somebody else. But that means giving him six months to show that he is actually doing something with the license for the club, which has been closed since April, 2022 - when gunfire erupted outside the place, just hours after board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce allowed it to re-open for the first time since it was ordered shut following a double shooting that may have sprung from a fight inside the club in November, 2021.
"It is quite unfair," board member Keeana Saxon said. "There are a lot of restaurants out there who would put [a liquor license] to good use."
Due to the way the state legislature limits the number of liquor licenses in Boston, the price of an all-alcohol license like the one Matov holds now approaches $600,000 on the open market.
Delaney Hawkins pleaded with the board to let Matov renew his liquor license for 2024, as it let him renew it for 2023, so that he could finish negotiations with an operator she did not identify to re-open the club - both in the current old building and possibly in the new apartment complex should it get built. She said she would file a more formal statement and timeline on selling the license by the end of this week.
Joyce, however, said she is beyond tired of dealing with the club. She said that as part of the board's decision to indefinitely suspend the club's liquor license on May 26, 2022, it told Matov to give it such notification, which he then never did.
"Why haven't we received that?" she asked. "We have now given you a year to figure this out and now I'm chasing you down again," she said, adding the whole matter is a waste of her time, her staff's time and even the police's time.
Matov said that in May, 2022, he expected by now the site would be in the process of being redeveloped into a new complex with 349 apartments. Now, though, "the development that had previously been approved is indefinitely on hold given the current market for redevelopment," Delaney Hawkins said.