PITTSFIELD -- The owner of a Fourth Street bar who is looking to sell his liquor license has until the new year to renew it or he -- and the city -- will lose the license for good.

By Dec. 31, Willard Curtis must come up with the city's $1,100 fee to retain the all-alcohol restaurant permit at The Tavern for 2013. He also still owes the $1,100 for his 2012 license.

Failure to pay will result in Curtis and the city forfeiting the license to the state because it will no longer be active, according to city officials.

Curtis says that renewing the license will give him more time to sell it, because he's getting out of the bar business for health reasons.

"I have someone interested in it," he told the city's Licensing Board on Monday.

Curtis was updating the board on the potential for obtaining a so-called "pocket" license for The Tavern.

A "pocket" license refers to someone holding -- but not actively using -- a liquor, car dealership or other city-approved license.

Curtis closed the bar in the spring of 2010 to recuperate from surgery, one of six he has endured in the last four years. He said his health has left him with no set income and difficulty in paying the license fee.

Through his attorney, Lori Robbins, Curtis asked if he could pay the fees after he sold the license, or at least establish a payment plan with the board. The board was cool to the proposal.

"I'm inclined to try and help, but I don't know if we can allow a license to be in existence without paying the fee," said Thomas Campoli.


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Board chairman Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. felt granting Curtis' request would set a bad precedent.

"If you have a license, you have to pay for it," Massimiano said. "[Otherwise] everyone is going to come in and ask for a payment plan."

Massimiano acknowledged that he and the board were unaware Curtis hadn't paid his 2012 liquor license fee. The chairman said he would take the blame for not being aware of the situation. The Tavern license fee is the only one in arrears for the current calendar year.

Curtis, who is in his late 50s, opened The Tavern in 1995, closing in 2008 to battle health issues. He recovered and re-opened in July 2009 until the spring of 2010, when ill health sidelined him again, forcing him to shut down his establishment.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.