Justine’s Grill, the newly re-named restaurant on Route 9 in Wellesley, will have to keep waiting for an all-alcohol license. At a recent meeting, the selectmen again questioned the safety of the parking situation and challenged the consistency of the new application with past licenses.
The restaurant–formerly known as Justine’s Table–was initially issued a common victualler license under the condition that 22 off-site parking spaces be made available on the same side of Route 9. At a hearing in late September, owner Gordon Breidenbach and his attorney presented the board with a plan that calls for off-site parking across Route 9 at Wellesley Mazda.
The initial plan to park guests’ cars at the neighboring Lee Volvo had to be modified when that dealership was sold to a new owner. According to Selectman Don McCauley, that represents a material change from the initial parking arrangement laid out in the restaurant’s CV license.
“I also have significant concerns about relying on the Mazda dealership on the other side of Route 9,” McCauley said, stressing the issue of safety involved with people crossing the highway under the cover of darkness.
Katherine L. “Gig” Babson, chairman of the board, said those material differences as well as the safety issues would preclude the board from approving the restaurant’s license. The hearing on Monday, Sept. 23, was the most recent of multiple hearings on the issue since the beginning of the summer.
Past attempts by Justine’s to acquire a license have been hampered by similar parking concerns as well as uncertainty about the ownership of the restaurant.
The board had expressed concern before about the involvement of the Behrend family, which has been working to develop the area around the restaurant. According to Hanley, those issues have been resolved and Breidenbach is now the sole owner.
Still, the board expressed concern over a revelation from last month that the restaurant has been receiving a break on the rent from the landlord–Dean Behrend–until a liquor license is granted.
“The landlord has put significant equity into this business at this point,” selectman Barbara Searle said of the rent abatement, “whether he’s an owner or not.” That arrangement, she added, is “extraordinary.”
According to McCauley, the conditions of the liquor and CV licenses–with parking available as needed on a daily basis–need to be brought into concert with one another before the board addresses the safety issues associated with parking attendants crossing Route 9.