PITTSFIELD -- The owner of Hermann Alexander's is poised to sell his liquor license, six months after the beleaguered bar was closed.
The Pittsfield Licensing Board on Monday approved Mitchell Gross jung's transfer of the annual all- alcohol restaurant license from his Lyman Street establishment to Spice Dragon, which is currently using a downtown liquor license. The North Street restaurant intends to pay $24,000 for the license, pending final approval from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Bever ages Control Commission (ABCC), according to Thomas Hamel, attorney for Spice Dragon owner Thang Huynh.
"We would look to return the [downtown] license to the city," Hamel said. "We've also set up the sale to address debts owed [liquor] vendors by Hermann Alexander's."
Hamel said swapping out licenses would benefit his client in the long run. A downtown liquor license has an annual city fee of $2,600 and must be turned back to the city if no longer being used. A traditional all-alcohol license costs $1,100 and can be sold or transferred.
The Pittsfield Licensing Board on May 15 suspended the Hermann Alexander's liquor license amid allegations of drug dealing, illegal gambling and illegal sale of alcohol to its customers, following a police raid in late April. The five-member local board removed its suspension on Aug. 20, provided Grossjung sold the liquor license. Hermann Alexander's has since remained closed.
Grossjung faces charges of conspiring to violate state drug laws and making illegal payments from video poker machines to bar customers. He has denied the charges in Berkshire Superior Court and remains free on personal recognizance.
Eight others are facing drug-related charges stemming from the raid, while one city man is also accused of promoting gambling at the bar.
In late August, the ABCC ruled Grossjung illegally sold retail liquor to patrons, suspending his license for 10 days, served concurrently with the local suspension. Under state law, restaurants and bars are required to purchase alcohol from wholesale distributors.
Meanwhile, the Licensing Board lauded former member Albert "Butch" Pisani for his nearly 30 years of service on the five-member panel. Pisani, whose term expired in June, recently resigned, stating in his letter to Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi it was time for him to step down. The mayor is charged with appointing Licensing Board members, subject to City Council approval.
The board felt Pisani's experience will be sorely missed by the city.
"He was a thoroughly knowledgeable member of the board ... always prepared to offer a solution," said Chairman Carmen C. Massimiano.
"He was a hands-on guy," added Robert Quattrochi. "If we had a problem with a license holder, he would offer to resolve it."