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Owner hopes to pass 'The Lantern' to new operator in downtown Pittsfield

The Lantern Photo

Bjorn Somlo, owner of The Lantern Bar & Grill in Pittsfield, is planning to seek a new operator for the eatery after he closes it following service Saturday. 

PITTSFIELD — The owner of The Lantern Bar & Grill on North Street will seek someone to run the business after he closes the eatery as of Sunday.

Bjorn Somlo is asking $150,000 for the iconic eatery on the corner of North and Linden streets, which he revived in 2019 after it had been closed for two years. Somlo owns only the business. The 122-year-old building The Lantern occupies at 455 North St. is owned by Mill Town Capital of Pittsfield.

The particulars of the sale involve the transfer of The Lantern’s all-alcohol restaurant license, which has to be approved by Pittsfield’s Licensing Board and the state Alcohol Beverage and Control Commission; the transfer of Somlo’s 15-year, $1,000-a-month lease with Mill Town Capital; all of the restaurant’s equipment and intellectual property, and its name, website and associated social media, Somlo said.

Somlo said he has invested $350,000 into The Lantern since it reopened in 2019. The eatery’s electrical system, plumbing, ADA-certified bathrooms, kitchen and hood are all new, he said.

He is not planning to hire a Realtor.

“I’m going to start by word of mouth,” he said, “because with something like this you really would like someone who knows what they’re getting into. We really believe it’s right there ready for someone to hit a home run with.”

Somlo, who also owns Nudel Restaurant in Lenox, said he has received some inquiries about acquiring The Lantern since announcing in early April he planned to close the business.

bjorn somlo (copy)

Bjorn Somlo seeks a new operator for The Lantern Bar & Grill in Pittsfield. He is pictured, in December, at another business, the newly renamed Nudel Bar: Comfort & Craft. 

“I’m interested in selling to someone who wants to make a deal,” Somlo said. “I think anyone who buys it at that price is going to be there and do a little work and will have a really nice business for them. The earlier numbers have proven that.”

The Lantern did over $650,000 in sales prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he said.

The pandemic’s effects on business over the past two years, combined with his father’s recent serious health issues, prompted Somlo to close, he told The Eagle earlier this month.

Somlo, who grew up in and around the Berkshires, is also a chef and has been involved in the Berkshire restaurant scene since he was 16. He patronized The Lantern before it closed in 2017 and became friendly with former owner Mark Papas, whose family had been part of the business since 1916.

Papas closed The Lantern in August 2017 after a recently installed cooking system was found not to be in compliance with city fire regulations. Papas told The Eagle then that the cost of bringing the system into compliance would be considerable.

The Lantern’s origins date back to a lunch cart on Summer Street that Mark Papas’ grandfather, Gus Papas, and his business partner, William Yerazunis, started in 1916. In the 1930s, the two men opened a restaurant known as The Puritan at North and Linden streets. Gus Papas died in 1949, and the eatery was renamed The Lantern after Papas’ father, William G. Papas, bought out Yerazunis in 1952.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.

Business writer

Tony Dobrowolski's main focus is on business reporting. He came to The Eagle in 1992 after previously working for newspapers in Connecticut and Montreal. He can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.

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