The auction scheduled Wednesday for the Highland Place liquor license was cancelled at the last minute at the request of the shuttered restaurant’s owner.
“He asked for a postponement,” said Investigator Eddie Palmer of the New Jersey Division of Taxation. Palmer confirmed he was referring to Chris Farrow, the owner of Highland Place.
The license was seized from Farrow because of unpaid state taxes, according to the state website. The restaurant has been closed since the summer.
Bidding was to begin at $300,000.
Palmer said Farrow “came forward with something for [the state]” that prompted them to postpone the auction, which was to be held at Maplewood’s Town Hall. When asked if Farrow was partnering with anyone else in his proposal, Palmer declined to respond.
New Jersey State Division of Taxation plenary license auctions may be postponed up until the day they are scheduled, said Palmer, if the owner approaches the state with a proposal they deem viable.
The earliest the auction will be rescheduled would be January, said Palmer. The owner has an unspecified amount of time to come up with a plan to pay back taxes, depending on the individual situation.
“If we make an agreement” there will be no auction; if no agreement can be reached, the state will reschedule, he said.
A small handful of people attended the auction, including Maplewood business owners there out of curiosity, the owner of a local beer distribution company, local businessman and philanthropist Tom Kerns (who was an investor in Highland Place), and a man whom others identified as the former owner of Martini’s in Millburn who reportedly has been in discussions with the restaurant’s landlord, Max Kian.
We have reached out to Farrow and Kian for comment and will update this article as more information becomes available.