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Saurin Shah updated the board on the progress of both locations on Monday.

Two Pittsfield Convenience Stores Eyed to Re-open; Lach's Get New Manager

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The owner of the former Dalton Ave. Variety is now looking to re-open on South Street.
 
Saurin Shah told the Licensing Board on Monday that he hopes to re-open his business in the former BP station across from Haddad on South Street in the coming months. He said he will be leasing the store space and another entity is looking to rebuild the gas station.
 
"I found a location and I'm working on transferring my license," Shah said. "I do have a spot inside the store that I will be operating."
 
Shah says he hopes to open in February and he expects to ask for his licenses lined up for renewals in March. Dalton Ave Variety has been operating with a seasonal license, which Shah let expire because the store closed. In March, he will apply to renew the license and transfer it to South Street.
 
The Shah family had two stores closed within months of each other. Shah previously said the lease expired and was not renewed at the Dalton Avenue store and the city shut down a convenience store on Elm Street, which is owned by Shah's father Piyush Shah. 
 
Saurin reported that Elm Street Convenience is still closed but the family is currently working with engineers on plans to rebuild a collapsed ceiling — which led to the closure of the store. 
 
"I hope it will be as soon as possible. I'm working with the engineers hoping they will get me some kind of plans and things like that. I personally plan to be up and running by the end of January, or at least in some type of construction phase," Shah said.
 
In other business, the Licensing Board approved Ishmael Lytle as the new manager of Lach's Lounge. Owner Michael Kruger said his former manager, Arthur Beattie, has been ill and Lytle has been serving as an interim manager for several months. Lytle is now taking over as the manager, after two years of working at the bar. 
 
The Licensing Board has had recent issues with security at the Fenn Street establishment and Lytle told the commissioners that he has tightened security since taking over — with some help from the Police Department which made it routine to park a cruiser in the parking lot on Saturday nights.
 
At the next meeting, the Licensing Board will be fielding complaints regarding management at Nichol's Package Store and Tito's Mexican Grill. Police Lt. Michael Grady reported to the board that the manager at Nichol's isn't the name of the manager on the license and the person's whose name is on the license hasn't been on-premise. 
 
At Tito's, the similar concern for management presence. Grady said there was an issue of overservice at the Depot Street restaurant and the manager has apparently been working from out-of-state via video cameras. 
 
The Licensing Board has routinely pushed for managers to spend as much time on their properties as possible — and with Tito's, even delayed issuing an approval on the liquor license manager because he was from out of town with no intention to move closer. Eventually, the Licensing Board approved the manager after being told he would be moving to the area to be physically closer to the restaurant.

Tags: alcohol license,   business manager,   convenience store,   license board,   

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Pittsfield City Council Finally Sets Tax Rate

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo questions Assessor Paula King at Tuesday's special meeting in this image taken from PCTV's Facebook livestream debut.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After three meetings and a debate over the use of free cash, City Council on Tuesday approved a tax rate only after Mayor Linda Tyer made concessions.
 
Councilors swiftly approved the use of an additional $1 million in free cash to offset the tax rate and set a residential tax rate of $19.71 and a commercial rate of $40.36, per $1,000 valuation.
 
"I want to credit [Assessor] Paula King because over the last couple of weeks, she has had to have several presentations ready," Ward 6 Councilor John Krol said. "So thank you for bearing with us on that."
 
This new rate has a residential shift factor of .8087 that results in a 1.6562 shift factor on the Commercial, Industrial, Personal Property side. The rate is an increase of 29 cents on the fiscal 2019 residential rate and an increase of 42 cents on the commercial rate.
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