The Hideaway gets year-round liquor license, Popcorn Noir close behind
EASTHAMPTON — After expecting that they would have to close down their new bar until April, the owners of Riff’s Joint have announced that the bar, The Hideaway, will remain open thanks to the efforts of local and state officials who expedited their application for a full liquor license.
Popcorn Noir, a theater and restaurant on Cottage Street that also went through the licensing process, will be closed until around Feb. 1, but its owners said that is better than the 2½-month closure they had anticipated.
The seasonal liquor licenses at both businesses meant that they were prohibited from serving alcohol from Jan. 15 to April 1, prompting the owners to seek year-round licenses. Since the licenses exceed the city’s quota of 17, they require a lengthier application and approval process. The owners of Riff’s Joint and Popcorn Noir thought they would have to close Jan. 15 while they waited for the licenses to be approved.
But Mayor Michael A. Tautznik delivered the year-round license to The Hideaway in person Jan. 14, just in time for the bar to stay open.
Jeffrey Cahill, co-owner of The Hideaway, said he was grateful that officials helped speed up the licensing process. “It’s really important not to close because we have a lot of regulars now, and it’s important to keep that continuity,” he said. Closing also would have eliminated about $5,000 a week in bar revenue, he said.
Cahill and Richard Lyman, the other co-owner of Riff’s Joint, opened the small bar adjacent to their restaurant in November. The businesses are located in the Eastworks Building on Pleasant Street.
Help from legislators
Cahill said State Rep. John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley, and Sen. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield, were instrumental in guiding the license application through the Legislature so that it arrived on Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s desk by New Year’s Eve.
The legislators’ offices also helped expedite approval from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and the other state agencies that OK’d it, he said.
“Everybody was really helpful and it ended well,” Cahill said.
The Hideaway got its license about two weeks ahead of Popcorn Noir because Cahill and Lyman arranged to get on the agenda of the Licensing Board’s monthly meeting on Jan. 2.
Popcorn Noir co-owner Kristen Davis had her request approved by the board at a special meeting Jan. 16. Davis said she expects the ABCC and other state agencies to sign off on it in time for Popcorn Noir to reopen Feb. 1.
“Rep. Scibak has been fantastic with this, answering every question we have,” she said of the process. “We’re definitely looking forward to focusing on the aspects of our business that we should have been all along, without this distraction.”
Hiding out at The Hideaway
Cahill said his bar’s clientele has been steadily growing, and patrons were as glad as he was to hear it wouldn’t have to close temporarily.
Cahill and Lyman, both career restaurateurs, say they are excited about their first foray into nightlife.
“We’re still kind of in disbelief that we own a bar,” Cahill said. “It really adds to the social aspect of the restaurant.”
The bar offers table service, making it “a little more upscale” than Riff’s Joint, which has counter service only, Cahill added.
“It’s comfortable and has a great atmosphere,” he said.
In addition to offering the full Riff’s Joint menu, the bar serves craft beer, wine and cocktails made with fresh ingredients. The dark room has rustic decor, with a single television that typically is tuned to sports. Cahill said The Hideaway expects to offer acoustic music performances soon.