David Atwell, second from right, is getting some help from current and former employees to get 23 Eagle St. ready for the new Desperado's restaurant.
David Atwell vowed to return to North Adams when his restaurant Desperado's closed on Ashland Street. He'd hoped to do it within the year but it ended up taking five.
The Mexican restaurant will reopen in the city this fall in the former The Alley location at 23 Eagle St. It's a spot Atwell's been eyeing for the past five years; he finally got it on Wednesday, when he closed with Legacy Bank to purchase the 4,200-square-foot property and its contents for $156,000.
"We wanted this building for five years," he said on Thursday, standing in the minor chaos of a restaurant in transformation. "It's small, easy to maintain and homey."
Atwell's Desperado's Fresh Mexican Grille in the Colonial Shopping Center in Williamstown has been operating for about 17 years. A big chunk of its clientele is from North Adams, which made him eager to return — but not unless he could own his location. His first venture here closed largely because of rental costs. "I wanted to be in control of my own building, my own costs," he said.
The Alley, which replaced a string of cafes before it, closed abruptly in January after father and son owners Jack and Keith Nogueira couldn't keep the bistro going. The building and its contents were to be sold off at auction in late June but Legacy Banks put in the only bid at $155,000 and the contents, which were to be auctioned seperately, were not offered.
Atwell, one of those attending the auction, said Legacy was aware he was interested in the property. He worked with the bank, which holds the mortgage, and particularly noted commercial relationship officer John Masten for making the process easy.
The dark colors and nightclub atmosphere will be completely erased. "We're going to paint the walls with warm Southwestern colors my wife [Deanna] and her sister picked out," said Atwell. The tables will be replaced with upholstered booths and some work will be done in the kitchen and second floor, where The Alley hosted musical acts.
Cleaning, patching under way.
Atwell is looking into an entertainment license but sees the second floor being used for private parties, benefits and teen dances. The long-term plan is to turn it into living loft space.
Employees from the Williamstown restaurant will work at both locations as necessary and former employees are expected to fill out his team.
The menu will be the same at both locations but the North Adams eatery will be open for lunch six days a week (the Williamstown eatery opens for lunch Thursday to Saturday.) Hours will be 11 to 10 Monday through Thursday and 11 to 11 Friday and Saturday. Atwell was approved by the Planning Board and received an all-alcoholic license to midnight from the Licensing Commission.
"We've set a goal of Nov. 1 to open," he said. "That will keep us working."
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I think it's great to have something different than pizza, even though we have some that do that very well. I've never been a big Eagle St Fan, I hate the parking in winter. Snow bank hopping was never my favorite sport. That's when Eagle Street slows to a grinding halt. If the stores there can the sidewalks clean, maybe, just maybe they have a shot. Sometimes your passenger can't even open the door, because of the snow, or sludge. The shop owners have nowhere to put it if they shovel it. I think the city has to step up and help the store owner with this matter.
People can always park on Main or in the Center St Parking Lot. But in Winter I first check on Eagle if that's where I'm going.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.