PITTSFIELD -- The new owners of the former Dakota restaurant -- renamed Da'Koto -- plan to reopen early next year following extensive renovations to the once popular dining venue.
"That building is in such disrepair it will be some time after the first of the year," said the owners' attorney, Ralph Cianflone. "There needs to be a complete reconditioning of the building."
Cianflone's remarks on Monday came as the Pittsfield Licensing Board unanimously approved the liquor license transfer from the Dakota's mortgage holder to management of the Da'Koto. Another entity, ZC Group LLC of Pittsfield, will own the property at 1035 South St. having recently purchased it for $775,000 from DWH II LLC of Idaho, which also held the annual all-alcohol restaurant license.
After nearly 30 years in business, the Dakota closed in April amidst a cash flow problem and long-standing debt, according to its owners.
The Da'Koto is not connected with the Koto Hibachi Steakhouse on Dalton Avenue, although some of the staff and ownership are involved with both restaurants, according to Cianflone. The local Koto is unaffiliated with the two Kotos in the Latham and Albany, N.Y.
ZC Group's business manager, Wayne Chea, said Da'Koto could employ dozens of people, with hope of retaining some of the former Dakota workers.
Several board members asked if Da'Koto would have a Sunday brunch similar to the popular one hosted by its predecessor.
Chea expects the new restaurant would stay away from such a mass-produced buffet line.
"Everything we do is homemade, not out of a package," he said.
Nevertheless, Chea has noted the Da'Koto expects to maintain some of Dakota's popular traditional menu offerings, but have a more "Oriental touch" such as sushi.
The Licensing Board on Monday also urged the Thistle & Mirth to be more vigilant in reporting drunkenness and fights at the West Street bar. Following a brief hearing, the five-member panel put on file a complaint from the Pittsfield Police Department that the bar's manager last month allowed a drunk woman to remain on the premises. The intoxicated patron and two bystanders later were attacked by the woman's boyfriend outside the bar.
Thistle & Mirth manager Joad Bowman vowed to call city police sooner if he senses trouble is brewing.
Bowman's pledge to the Licensing Board followed discussion of how he handled an incident at the bar just after midnight on July 16.
According to Bowman, a woman who had four beers during a four-hour period became drunk and refused to take a cab ride home. She, two other male bar patrons and Bowman were outside awaiting another cab to arrive when the woman's boyfriend, Jeremy Killela, returned and started a fight with his girlfriend, according to a police report. The woman and two bar patrons were injured. Killela fled the scene before police arrived, but was later arrested and charged in connection with the attack, said city police Lt. Michael Grady.
Police say eyewitnesses told them the couple had been fighting earlier in the bar, a claim Bowman denied. The bar manager said once Killela returned and instigated the altercation, he immediately called police.
The Licensing Board felt the attack could have been avoided if Bowman had reported sooner his trouble in removing the woman from the premises.
They declined to punish Bowman, believing he was sincere in promising to prevent another barroom incident.
"I feel comfortable Mr. Bowman "Gets it,' " said board member, Thomas Campoli.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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