As for the hotel, Bandar applied for an available liquor license from the city earlier this year, but the Licensing Board went with Mike & Lil’s Black Sheep Pub at 5 Central St. instead because the new pub would open at least a year before the hotel would be finished.
The new liquor licenses in question would be created by special legislation, and the city is asking for 10 total. A home rule petition is before state lawmakers for five licenses at Northshore Mall and five for the downtown. A joint committee forwarded the petition for approval to the full House and Senate last week. One-time fees of $5,000 and special restrictions would be attached to the licenses, prohibiting license holders from quickly selling the licenses for large profits.
Bettencourt believes the new licenses will attract small-business owners downtown who can’t afford the high prices usually seen in private sales. Combined with renovation costs and other startup expenses, a new ethnic eatery may be near impossible to finance for a budding restaurateur, he said.
“They can’t afford to pay $205,000 like Trader Joe’s or $150,000 like P.F. Chang’s for a license,” he said, adding that the downtown needs more places like Petrillo’s, Sugar Cane and Maki Sushi. The sushi bar and grill was granted a new license from the city in 2011, and business blossomed.
“This is another piece of the puzzle to restoring vitality to the downtown,” Bettencourt said.
You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.