PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jae's Asian Bistro is moving to Pittsfield.
Attorney Jeff Lynch told the Licensing Board on Monday that he expects to have a change in name and manager soon for the former 7 Winter Grille on Winter Street. The building is owned by Susan Chung, who with her husband, Jae Chung, owns multiple restaurants. The Chungs plan to close the Lenox location of Jae's Asian Bistro and reopen on Winter Street under the name Jae's Grille, according to Lynch.
"The restaurant underwent renovations and it has been closed for more than a year," Lynch said of 7 Grille.
The location was once Mazzeo's Ristorante until more recently operating as 7 Winter Grille. The location was closed for renovations, which ultimately led to the installation of a new elevator that has caused significant delays in reopening. The Chungs recently decided not to renew their lease on the Lenox restaurant and move to Pittsfield.
"This was a bit unforeseen," Lynch said.
The goal is to reopen in September, the attorney said. However, despite Susan Chung being the license holder in Lenox, the Licensing Board expressed reservations about her managing the Pittsfield location. She is also a full-time attorney and Lynch said it is expected that she'll be on site for 20 hours a week — a number too low for the Licensing Board.
"I'm not saying it can't be done, but it is troubling," member Richard Stockwell said.
The board asked that Chung present her management plan at its next meeting. Licensing Board member Thomas Campoli said he'd like to know more about the other managers who will be on site when Chung is not.
"Obviously it is working in Lenox but we would like to know the players," Campoli said.
Lynch said Chung was approved to manage the Lenox restaurant by both the town and the state and the operational model has led to zero issues with the liquor license. He said keeping Chung as the manager helps make a smooth transition from the other restaurant to the new one as well as keeping the re-opening on target.
"It was a natural fit to name her the manager," Lynch said.
Not too far from the Winter Street property, the owner of the former Tyler Restaurant says he is close to selling his all-alcohol license to another restaurant entity. The restaurant has been closed for about a year and owner Jeff Bashara said in the next week or so he hopes to have an agreement on the price.
"We're actively seeking to sell that license," Lynch said. "There is some interest."
The board has been leaning on holders of inactive licenses in hopes to ensure the licenses are being used. The city has only a limited amount of all-alcohol licenses so revoking a license means it cannot be reissued. In the case of the former Debbie Wong's, the board had to retire that permit when the owner said he was unable to find a buyer.
For the former Chameleons, attorney Anthony Doyle said he is in the process of transferring the license from being in the name of the former leasee to the property owner, Pamela Rice The plan then would be to re-open while concurrently marketing to sell off the site and the license together.
"My client's intent is to open a bar on a temporary basis," Doyle said.
The building has been up for sale but hasn't garnered much interest. The license remains in the former operator of Chameleons Melissa Drumm-Sweener's name and that has faced some hurdles in switching out. Doyle said he is waiting for a certificate from the state Department of Revenue regarding taxes before the switch can be made.
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