DANVERS — Those hoping to create The Berry Tavern eatery in a long-vacant space at 2 High St. in Danvers Square got the OK from selectmen last night, but not without some reservations about how the liquor license fell into the applicant’s hands.
By a vote of 4-0, with Selectman Gardner Trask abstaining, selectmen approved the application of 2 High Street Tavern Inc. to transfer the license from Steven Tedesco, who never opened a sports bar on Route 1 at 100 Newbury St, as he had intended.
During the public hearing, selectmen liked that the operators of restaurants in the North End of Boston, Al Dente Ristorante and Benevento’s, wanted to open a 2,400-square-foot, 78-seat restaurant in Danvers Square.
They liked that it would create 25 to 30 jobs. They did not seem to mind that parking might be hard to find. They allowed the restaurant to open at 11 a.m., 10 a.m. on Sundays, and close at 1 a.m.
However, they disapproved of how the liquor license came into the applicant’s hands.
“I believe this is a pocket license being sold for a profit,” insisted Trask, who said he had no problem with the applicant, who was represented by Danvers resident George Tsatsis, the new tavern’s manager; Joseph Bono, the president of the company; and Danvers attorney Nancy McCann.
Trask asked to speak with Tedesco’s attorney, Paul Crochiere. Under questioning from Trask, Crochiere said Tedesco paid $40,000 to the license’s previous holder, a former Japanese steakhouse on Route 1. Crochiere said the license fetched $120,000 from the applicants, but it had cost Tedesco a lot of money trying to develop a restaurant.
“He invested about $90,000 between engineering, legal and other expenses, including fees to the town,” Crochiere said.
Trask wasn’t buying it.
“This is a license that has gone unused for several years,” Trask said, at Tedesco’s discretion. “My strong statements and arguments are toward the seller,” he told the applicants. “I am at a quandary.” Trask said he did not plan to vote on the license transfer unless there was a tie.