Irish pub planned for Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton
A new 75-seat restaurant is planned for the former Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton. (Gazette File Photo) Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — The owners of a small chain of Irish pubs have inked a deal to lease the former Pleasant Street Theater space downtown for a new 75-seat restaurant.
The pub, to be called McLadden’s Irish Publick House, could open by the end of the year if the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission signs off on a liquor license transfer recently approved by the city’s License Commission.
“We’ve been trying to get into Northampton for several years now,” co-owner Michael Ladden said Monday. “We like the city’s downtown vibe.”
Some Pleasant Street residents, meanwhile, are concerned about how the restaurant may affect the neighborhood.
James Thompson, who lives in a condominium complex at 29 Pleasant St., attended last week’s commission meeting to voice concerns about noise, ventilation, odors, trash removal and people loitering or smoking outside the pub.
Thompson said he and other members of the condo association known as 29 Pleasant Street Condominiums recognize that a business will likely move into the building, a prime piece of downtown real estate. But, he said, a pub is different from a theater or other retail business.
“We’re certainly not averse to it,” Thompson said. “We just want everyone to be good neighbors and we define that in terms of noise, sound, smell and the litter.”
Ladden said he has met with many people who live in the area and intends to be a good neighbor.
“We’re going to do our best to make sure we’re not a detraction,” he said. “We want to be an attraction.”
Building owner Joseph Blumenthal said the restaurant is a good fit for the downtown, though he would have preferred to find a retail business for the space. The former tenant, the Pleasant Street Theater, closed in June after more than 30 years of showing movies.
“I think he’s going to do well,” Blumenthal said of Ladden. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The commission last week agreed to transfer a liquor license formerly held by Spoleto Restaurant on Main Street to the McLadden Restaurant Group Northampton LLC. McLadden also operates pubs in West Hartford, Conn., and Hampden.
Claudio Guerra, Spoleto’s owner, is selling its license to McLadden for $150,000, said Mary Midura, clerk of the License Commission.
Spoleto no longer needs its license because it moved to space at 1 Bridge St. that was home to the Paradise City Tavern, which closed last month. Guerra also owned Paradise City, and Spoleto has assumed its license.
Before approving the transfer the ABCC will review both parties to make sure they have met all tax and other obligations, Midura said.
Thompson said the condo association supports the license transfer, but only if several conditions are met to address members’ concerns. The association filed those conditions, which address the issues that Thompson raised at the License Commission meeting, in written testimony to the ABCC.
In addition, Thompson said, the association is concerned that its right-of-way behind the building will be adversely affected by the restaurant in terms of parking, trash, snow removal and other factors.
Ann Marie Lucey, who lives at 42 Pleasant St. above Newbury Comics, also spoke at the License Commission meeting. She said there are 15 restaurants surrounding her apartment and the associated noise can be unbearable at closing time.
She said she would like the License Commission to reduce the number of liquor licenses the city grants.
“To tell you the truth, I think Michael Ladden has a great business plan,” she said.
Blumenthal and Guerra spoke in favor of the restaurant at the commission’s hearing, with Guerra calling it a “classy operation,” Midura said.
Blumenthal said he’s confident Ladden will be considerate of neighbors.
“He’s a responsible guy and I don’t anticipate a problem,” he said.
The license board also approved a request by McLadden’s to extend the hour of closing from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m., which Lucey said may lead to more noise in her neighborhood.
“The commission should be more sensitive to neighborhood issues,” she said.
Though that approval allows McLadden’s to stay open until 2 a.m. every night of the week, Ladden said the restaurant will do so only on Friday and Saturday nights. The pub will open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and during the day on weekends, he said. He expects to hire about 25 people to work at the restaurant.
Construction crews are about to begin an “extensive build-out” to the 1,500 square feet of space, he said. Like the two other McLadden’s locations, the Northampton restaurant will have an Irish-themed look.
“It will be a casual, comfortable kind of feel,” Ladden said. In addition to serving traditional Irish and American fare, the pub will offer low-key musical entertainment, he said.