Eric Suher opens new lounge in Northampton, easing tensions with License Commission

Wednesday, March 05, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Holyoke businessman Eric Suher has opened a new lounge on Center Street, bringing to conclusion a lengthy dispute with the License Commission over a dormant liquor license.

Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck said Suher has passed occupancy and liquor license inspections for the 1,700 square feet of renovated space at 26-28 Center St., which previously housed Blue Note Guitars.

“They’re all set,” Hasbrouck said.

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Suher has said the new lounge, called The Green Room, is intended to serve food and alcohol to patrons of the nearby Iron Horse Music Hall, which he also owns. The windows of the new lounge are still covered with paper and a new sign has not been installed, but Suher confirmed Friday that the lounge is open for “certain things.”

The lounge’s opening activates a seasonal all-alcohol permit that Suher has owned since 2009. In late 2012, the License Commission began pressing Suher to use the license or risk having it revoked or suspended. It voiced similar concerns about another dormant liquor license Suher owns for 298 Main St., the former Baptist Church at the corner of Main and West streets.

Commissioners expressed concern at several meetings last year that Suher has kept the licenses for several years without using them, but they did not taken action because Suher assured them renovation projects at those buildings were moving ahead. At its Nov. 6 meeting, commissioners gave him 60 days to have the Center Street business open — which would have been Jan. 6 — and a June deadline to complete the church project.

The commission extended the deadline for Center Street in January and in February approved a common victualler license for the space, which allows food to be served.

Suher is expected to talk about the church project when the commission meets at 4 p.m. Monday in the City Council chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

That project involves converting the church, which Suher bought two decades ago, into a function hall for weddings, conferences and similar events. Hasbrouck said the project is moving along.

“He’s got a ways to go, but it’s a really nice design,” Hasbrouck said. “He’s putting an awful lot into it.” The liquor license for the church, which Suher owns under the name 4 West S Corp., is a year-round, all-alcohol license approved in the fall of 2008.

The liquor license for Suher’s Center Street property is a seasonal all-alcohol permit that allows alcohol sales between April 1 and Jan. 15. Suher is asking the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to convert it to a year-round, all-alcohol license.