Proposed restaurants mired in challenges

Rebeca Oliveira

FOREST HILLS—Two proposed restaurants on Washington Street across from the Forest Hills MBTA station aim to revitalize the commercial strip. Tonic and Napper Tandy’s—planning to move next door to each other, at 3698 and 3700 Washington St., respectively, are both currently maneuvering through construction and licensing obstacles.

Napper Tandy’s owner, John Jacobs, told the Gazette in a phone interview that the process has been “moving slowly.” Though the proposed Irish pub/bistro has secured a liquor license, he said, they have not yet closed on the real estate. Jacobs said that they hope to do so in the coming weeks, and plan to start construction immediately thereafter. He said he is hopeful for a February 2011 opening.

The former barbershop at 3700 Washington St. would need a “complete build-out,” including the installation of a kitchen, Jacobs previously told the Gazette. That space has been vacant for at least a decade.

Tonic representatives went before the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Public Services Committee at their last meeting, details of which were given to the entire JPNC by committee member Karley Ausiello at the Sept. 28 JPNC meeting.

Croan McCormack’s Tonic would be located at the former site of Griffin’s Café, which closed over a year ago. Tonic would function as a late-night restaurant, Ausiello said, and would keep its doors open until 2 a.m., which raised some concerns at the Public Service Committee meeting.

The Public Service Committee voted to accept Tonic’s proposal, though until Tonic secures a liquor license, it cannot move forward, Ausiello said.

Colleen Keller, JP Coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, said at the JPNC meeting that Tonic’s application for a liquor license has been handed back, as the City has no licenses available.

A licensing board representative told the Gazette that McCormack is welcome to re-apply immediately, noting that license availability “is luck of the draw.” McCormack could also purchase a liquor license from another establishment.

The City of Boston has a strict cap on the number of licenses available to restaurants and bars (around 700 full liquor and around 350 for beer and wine only). New establishments usually get their licenses by buying them from other venues, or from rare newly-created licenses. New licenses have to be approved by the State Legislature.

Tonic would not have any outdoor seating, and has agreed to coordinate deliveries and trash pick-ups with other restaurants on the strip, Ausiello said. Napper Tandy’s would close at 1 a.m., Ausiello added.

Jacobs has owned another Napper Tandy’s, at 46 Day St. in Norwood, since 2003, and was an original owner of the Jeanie Johnston pub at 144 South St.

McCormack is also the owner of the JP-based Peace of Mind Home Healthcare Company. He did not return the Gazette’s phone call.

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