LENOX -- A new sports pub at the former Halpin's Grub and Grog is slated to open by Sept. 1, now that Select Board has approved a new all-alcoholic restaurant license for the owners of Mazzeo's Ristorante who purchased the property last month.
The revamped business at 490 Pittsfield Road has been named Mazcot's following a contest held on Facebook and other social media sites.
Representing brothers Anthony and Michael Mazzeo, attorney Thomas J. Hamel told the Selectmen there will be no physical changes to the premises.
"The operations will be significantly different simply because the owner-operator, Anthony Mazzeo, has in excess of 25 years of experience operating restaurants in Berkshire County," Hamel said during the public hearing this week on the license application. Mazzeo's Ristorante is located a quarter-mile south of the sports bar on South Street in Pittsfield.
Hamel said Mazcot's will employ "a number of experienced individuals from the Mazzeo's operation."
"For what was operated there before to what we intend to operate, simply because of the management we intend to employ and who Mr. Mazzeo is, we do expect it to be a vastly different operation," Hamel added.
Jeff Halpin's JSH Enterprises, LLC, which owned the property, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after closing abruptly in November.
To acquire the property, the Mazzeos paid $840,000, the remaining amount of a mortgage owed to Berkshire Bank, the major creditor, and a loan from the U.S.
Earlier in the meeting, attorney William Barry spoke briefly on behalf of his client, Naresh Patel, owner of the adjacent Wagon Wheel Motel. Patel had written to the Select Board urging an 11 p.m. closing time for Mazcot's because of a history of late-night noise disturbances from Halpin's.
Based on discussions with Hamel, Barry said he had been satisfied that there would be no such problems under Mazzeo's ownership. "I can report to my client that he'll have a good neighbor," said Barry.
Hamel pointed out that when Mazzeo's Ristorante operated for more than 25 years on Winter Street in a residential neighborhood, it had never appeared before the Pittsfield Licensing Board on a noise or disturbance issue.
Selectmen David Roche and Kenneth Fowler expressed approval of Hamel's efforts to nip potential noise issues in the bud.
"Your reputation precedes you," Fowler told Hamel, referring also to the Mazzeo brothers.
But the Select Board looked askance at Hamel's request to allow Mazcot's to be open until 2 a.m. A previous Select Board had imposed a 1 a.m. townwide bar closing, with two exceptions "grandfathered" -- the Five Chairs bar on the Pittsfield Road and the Cranwell Resort.
"We will never be a last-call bar," Hamel stressed. "But we do anticipate once in a while a West Coast game or championship going on, and we would hate to have to tell our patrons we have to close down in the middle of a game. We ask for the courtesy of having that flexibility, but we don't expect to utilize it on a day-to-day basis."
As an example, he cited a hypothetical Boston Red Sox World Series contest on the West Coast.
The Selectmen voiced concern that granting Hamel's proposal would set a precedent and lead to a slew of similar requests from local bars for a 2 a.m. closing. The board voted unanimously to approve a license for Mazcot's to operate from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., except 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays.
After the hearing, Hamel said that the projected Sept. 1 opening reflected the expected time required for final license approval from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston. Some cosmetic changes will be made to the bar over the summer, he added.
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