The owner of the building that formerly housed Highland Place restaurant and bar won approval Tuesday night to have the former owner’s liquor license transferred to him.
The Maplewood Township Committee, acting as the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, voted 5-0 to allow a person-to-person transfer of the license, previously owned by Chris Farrow, to Masoud (Max) Kian.
Kian and his attorney told the board he plans to rent the space to someone who will re-open it as a restaurant, and will then seek permission to officially transfer the plenary license to that person.
“The place has no value without the liquor license,” said Kian’s attorney.
The New Jersey State Division of Taxation had seized the license from Farrow because of unpaid state taxes.
Kian told the board he had owned the building for roughly 20 years, and had been the owner-operator of Cent’anni, an Italian restaurant that was in the space for years before it closed. He then leased the space and sold the liquor license to Farrow, who opened Highland Place.
“I’m talking to a lot of people” about renting the space, Kian told The Village Green after the meeting. However, while he will help a new owner pay for some repairs, he is unwilling to fund costly renovations some prospective operators have requested.
Kian said he has made numerous repairs and updates to the space already, including adding a new kitchen. “The place was a disaster, it was dirty,” he said.
Now that he has secured the license, Kian will put a sign in the window advertising the space is for lease — but he said that he is not willing to rent it to just anyone.
“People think I’m desperate,” said Kian, because the restaurant has been shuttered for so long; however, he said that he is able to finance the purchase through personal funds. Kian owns a chain of parking garages in New York City.
Kian said that he wants to find “someone reliable” to run a restaurant.