Trader Joe’s on Route 114 has agreed to pay $205,000, the highest price ever in Peabody, for the package store liquor license now controlled by Martino’s Liquors and NY Deli on Route 1.
That figure surpasses the previous high in Peabody of $135,000 paid in 2007 for the all-alcoholic license of Collins Cafe to The Cheesecake Factory, which was then preparing to open at the Northshore Mall. The payment, minus legal fees, goes to the owner of the business selling the license.
Even better for Martino’s, they were given their license free of charge, according to Licensing Board secretary Julie Rydzewski, when the city found itself with an additional license due to the increase in population.
The board will be asked to approve the transfer to Trader Joe’s at a meeting date tentatively set for Aug. 27.
Trader Joe’s is in the market for a license, Rydzewski said, only because the state recently upped the number of licenses a given business could own from three to five.
“There has to be a public hearing,” member Chuck Holden said. Up to now, he added, “This is completely a private sale.” For the establishment that owns the license, it becomes an asset of the business.
Martino’s owner Frank Martino could not comment. His establishment recently earned a warning after getting caught up in a police sting that saw an employee selling liquor to a minor.
Holden described Martino’s as a “high-end deli.” It provides tables for those who want to eat, and liquor can be purchased in the business but cannot be consumed there.
“It is astounding,” commented Salem Licensing Board member John Casey. “That’s an unheard-of amount of money. It’s about seven times the amount of a beer and wine license that recently transferred in Salem.”
He noted that a similar license in Salem typically goes for a little more than $30,000. On the other hand, licenses in Boston can sell for roughly $300,000.
“It’s all drawn by the demand,” Casey said, noting that Martino’s has the benefit of dealing with a national chain.
In Marblehead, veteran Selectman Harry Christensen said that such sales are unknown because the licenses are considered the property of the town.
“Unbelievable,” he said of the sale. “We don’t have that kind of thing.”
A business can ask the town to transfer the license, Christensen said, but that’s no guarantee it will be approved. “Often, we advertise it as an open license.”
Licenses are valuable because the state restricts the number that can be distributed in a given town or city.