The Maplewood Township Committee agreed to reconsider its decision to deny a liquor license renewal to the owner of the former Highland Place restaurant, after assurances from the owner’s attorney that a potential deal was at hand.
“We have had fruitful conversations with a restaurateur who has a restaurant in Mountainside,”said Nelson Monteiro, representing owner Max Kian, at the TC’s Tuesday meeting. “[But] our backs are against the wall because of the denial of the license renewal.”
The TC, acting as the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, chose not to renew the plenary liquor license owned by Kian in a 4-1 vote (with Greg Lembrich dissenting) at its June 21 meeting. Before that vote, Mayor Vic DeLuca had scathing words for Kian, noting that people were disappointed at his “lack of movement in getting that place back open.” He asked Monteiro, “Why should we approve another year of giving him a license?”
Highland Place has been closed for two years, after the liquor license was seized from the former owner, Chris Farrow, because of unpaid state taxes. In February of 2015, the TC (acting as the local ABC) granted Kian approval to have Farrow’s liquor license transferred to him.
On Tuesday, Monteiro asked the TC to reconsider its June decision. “We humbly request that you retract the vote and allow him to renew the license,” said Monteiro.
He continued, “Please rest assured that my client…wants this place to go forward and become viable and become part of Maplewood’s legacy.”
While DeLuca said the TC was not in a position to change its decision right away, “if you have a lease or agreement…that you can share with our attorney, we will have a conversation with the prospective lessee and make a judgment whether it should be renewed.”
“It’s good to hear we have the same goal,” said DeLuca. “Let’s work this out.”