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September 4, 2013

Selectmen's liquor license move paves way for Bonefish Grill

DANVERS — Selectmen gave a six-month extension last night to the holder of a Route 1 liquor license so he could transfer it to a national restaurant chain called Bonefish Grill.

The license holder  never built the sports bar for which he'd obtained the license, making the proposed transfer a somewhat contentious issue.

Bonefish Grill, in turn, is looking to build a new restaurant in the parking lot of the Burlington Coat Factory on Route 114.

During a public hearing last night, representatives of Steven Tedesco of Peabody laid out the case for why the board should grant an extension, blunting some selectmen’s concerns that it appeared he had pocketed the license only to flip it to another buyer. No one on the board openly suggested Tedesco did that, and Selectman Diane Langlais said Tedesco was in compliance with town guidelines for liquor license transfers.

“Mr. Tedesco is not some sort of carpetbagger who came into town to speculate,” said Tedesco’s attorney, Paul Crochiere, who described him as an established business owner whose Danvers commercial building represented a $2.5 million development generating $33,000 a year in real estate taxes.

Crochiere said he wanted to “dispel any notion that this was a quick speculation scheme.”

After getting the liquor license from the town in June 2012, Tedesco faced multiple delays in the approval process from the state Alcoholic Control Beverages Commission, as he sought to develop a new restaurant at his commercial building at 100 Newbury St., which also includes his marble and granite business, Crochiere said.

Tedesco had acquired a liquor license, which has been in limbo for nearly four years after a former Japanese steakhouse on Route 1 closed, selectmen said.

During the delay in the state liquor-license approval process, Tedesco found that estimates for the build-out of his restaurant had increased, and plans to double the size of the restaurant also slowed things. He put the project on hold until it was approved this spring. Then, a liquor-license broker approached Tedesco earlier this year, Crochiere said. Tedesco initially said, “no,” to selling the license before inking a purchase and sale agreement last month.

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