The number of alcohol serving licenses available in Pittsfield has shrunk by one, following a unanimous vote by the Licensing Board to revoke a license held by Willard Curtis, former proprietor of The Tavern on 4th Street.
While The Tavern closed its doors more than four years ago, uncertainty has surrounded the fate of its license, in a saga of postponed sanction that has occupied the board intermittently for nearly two years.
“I think the board has to wash our hands of it,” said board member Richard Stockwell, motioning to cancel the latent license following an update on its disposition.
Under Massachusetts law, a license cannot continue to be held if it remains inactive, a proposition the Licensing Board has struggled with, offering numerous reprieves and postponements to allow the owner to sell it rather than have the city lose the license altogether.
The recurring possibility of an upcoming sale had thus far stayed the board’s hand, though repeated attempts by potential buyers have gone without response from Curtis or his attorney.
“We have been actively chasing licenses around the city,” said attorney Syd Smithers, representing Main Street Hospitality’s upcoming Hotel On North.
Smithers said that after about six months of trying to come to an arrangement for the former Tavern license, the hotel business has just signed a letter of intent for a license transfer from another seller.
“You sure were dogged to try and straighten all that out,” said board member Robert Quattrochi
The board’s reticence to take the license has been seen at repeated meetings since 2012, and in November 2013 the board issued what it called a “last chance” for the owner to negotiate its sale, which included several years in unpaid licensing fees.