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North Adams Restaurant Has to Reapply for Alcohol License
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:48PM / Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Desperados restaurant won't be able to serve alcohol until it gets a new license under its new ownership. 
 
Former owner Peter Oleskiewicz and new manager Chris Bonnivier had been scheduled to discuss the transition situation with the License Commission on Tuesday but Commissioner Rosemari Dickinson informed her colleagues that the restaurant's license had been turned in. 
 
"Mr. Oleskiewicz hand-walked his license to surrender to us yesterday," Dickinson said at Tuesday's meeting. "So the license is no longer. He voluntarily surrendered it."
 
Since the property no longer has a valid license, the alcohol cannot even be stored at 23 Eagle St., she said, because the pouring license is no longer in effect. The alcohol can be sold to other license holders, with permission of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, or back to the distributor. 
 
She said it was up to the license holder to remove the liquor since it was purchased under that license. 
 
When contacted, Oleskiewicz said the alcohol belonged to the new owners and it was up to them to get it off the premises. 
 
A new team with Bonnivier, a well-known local chef, and his partners Sandra Lopez Nieves and Joseph Bevilacqua took over the restaurant in September, and recently announced that restaurant's former owner, David Atwell, will be coming back on board. 
 
Oleskiewicz, a city councilor, has said operating both the Mexican restaurant and the Miss Adams Diner had become too much, largely because of a shortage of staff. He had stayed on the license as manager but is no longer involved. 
 
The commission said the new team would have to apply for another pouring license if it wanted to serve alcohol. 
 
"They have to start from the beginning so it's no longer transfer as soon as this goes back [to the ABCC]," said Dickinson. "Once the state's informed that this is no longer being licensed, 23 Eagle St. becomes open again and they would apply for a brand-new license."
 
The business cannot apply for any other type of license, such as a special one-day license, in the meantime.
 
The restaurant is closed this week because of a medical issue, according to its Facebook page. Dickinson asked Commissioners Peter Breen and Michael Goodson if wanted to do a walk through when it reopened to see if the alcohol had been removed; Breen suggested that a police officer do it and report back. 
 
Breen also suggested sending the new owners a letter informing them of the situation and as a way to get them communicating with the commission on their plans. 
 
The commission also spoke with Abbas Choudhry about errors in the application for Shahmer LLC to take over Dave's Package Store on River Street, including not yet changing over a New York driver's license to Massachusetts after moving to North Adams. 
 
Choudhry said some of the errors and missing information had been corrected at the state level but Dickinson said those changes also had to be completed on the five-page application submitted to the commission. 
 
"Act like you're filling out a brand-new application for a transfer because that's what it's for," she said. "The necessary paperwork will come down with the checklist again, do whatever you have to, that we need that's not included. ...
 
"We've already received this back one time and so rather than to keep stalling it, I suggest you fill out ... so that everything is answered."'
 
Owner David Atwell had already sent in the renewal for the package store license so it would only be a transfer on Choudry's end, Dickinson said. 
 
She also reported to the commission that there were still seven license renewals that had not been returned by early Tuesday but she had contacted the owners who said they would get them in by day's end. 
 
City Councilor Jennifer Barbeau, who attended the meeting, asked about any restaurants that had closed because of the commercial tax rate. A restaurant owner had reached out to her about closures after last week's tax classification hearing that had centered the tax burden carried by small businesses. 
 
Dickinson said five restaurants were not renewing their license but not from anything to do with the tax rate, as far as she knew. The five not renewing are Desperados, the Capitol (which closed this past summer), the Pitcher's Mound (which closed because of retirements), Door Prize (which opened this past summer at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), and The Ranch, which closed a couple weeks ago in part because of staffing shortages. 
 
"They were all going to close anyways or have already closed," she said. 
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