BJ's Wholesale Club Coming to Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Braintree developer has announced plans to construct a BJ's Wholesale Club on Hubbard Avenue. It would be the first BJ's in Berkshire County.

Robert MacPherson, president of Cape Breton Corp., said Friday morning that his company would develop the BJ's. Cape Breton will begin the formal permitting process in the next couple of months with the goal of breaking ground in 2010.

Deana Ruffer, the city's community development director, said the city's known for some time that BJ's had been considering a location in Pittsfield. Cape Breton was focusing on the large parcel behind Stop & Shop Supermarket owned by J.W. Kelly Enterprises Inc.

"We were aware they were in negotiation with the Kellys," she said, but Cape Breton was also looking at site provisions and get approvals through BJ's internal processes. "I was thrilled that they were comfortable enough in their plans to make a public announcement this morning."

Cape Breton Corp. specializes in site acquisition and local permitting of retail buildings and shopping centers. This new development will bring 120 new jobs to the city, according to a press release from City Hall.

"We are thrilled that during these challenging times, BJ's has confidence in Pittsfield's future. The citizens of Pittsfield as well as all of Berkshire County will benefit from having another shopping choice," said Mayor James Ruberto in the press release. "I also want to thank the city's economic development team for the work they have done to bring this new investment to Pittsfield."

Headquartered in Natick, BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. is a leading operator of membership warehouse clubs in the East. The company, now in its 25th year, currently employees more than 20,000 team members and operates 180 clubs in 15 states from Maine to Florida.

The closest BJ's clubs to Berkshire County are in Greenfield, Springfield and Albany, N.Y. Rumors have swirled for years that Walmart was seeking to build a Sam's Club in either Pittsfield or North Adams but the plans haven't materialized; there'd also been some talk about a BJ's in North Adams.

Ruffer said her office is working with the company to take advantage of the city's streamlined permitting process. The Office of Community Development has provided information for developers working with brand-name retailers, she said.

"It's very gratifying to me that the behind-the-scenes work with developers can result with a win for Pittsfield and new jobs."
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Pittsfield Licensing Board OKs Liquor Licenses for Two New Eateries

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

The former Papa Gino's on Merrill Road closed after nearly a half-century in business. The location will reopen as a Mexican restaurant.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two new restaurants are on the horizon for the city.

The Licensing Board on Monday approved the transfer of a seven-day all-alcohol license from Portsmitt's Lakeway Restaurant to Old Man Jeff's, which will be run by Jeffrey Yeager, the former assistant vice president of planning and reporting at Guardian Life Insurance Co.

The board also approved a seasonal all-alcohol restaurant license application for El Habanero Mexican Grill, which plans to open in the former Papa Gino's on Merrill Road.

In his retirement, Yeager has dedicated himself to becoming a pitmaster and plans to open a barbecue establishment at the shuttered eatery on Peck's Road. Portsmitt's closed in November 2020, citing financial pressures from the pandemic.

"I was responsible for operations at Guardian Life for 30 years, retired, hit the road, the BBQ trail, did competition barbecue for two years studying to some of the top pitmasters in the country, kind of did that for a little while and I can't cook so much food for myself," he said, adding that he is excited because he has always wanted to run a barbecue restaurant.

Yeager said he would like to initially focus on "power hours," or lunches and early dinners. The board approved the eatery's operating hours from noon to 11 p.m., though he doesn't plan to be open that late.

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