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Margaritas cancels plan to open in Danvers

Posted by Sean Teehan  January 19, 2011 09:29 AM

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A Tio Juan's Margaritas restaurant slotted to open on Endicott Street has backed out of the plan and is now seeking to transfer the liquor license.

At a Danvers Board of Selectmen meeting last night, representatives of Harbor Management Corp., the company that owns the property Margaritas formerly planned to occupy, appeared before board members, telling them the new development.

The chain had planned to open at the site of the now defunct Crab House on Endicott Street.

According to Jeffrey Gouchberg, owner of the Lynn-based Harbor Management, the real estate management firm will try to facilitate a liquor license transfer from Margaritas to another corporation.

"We're going to attempt to transfer" the license, Gouchberg said to board chair Michael W. Powers, who told him Harbor Management could not take ownership of the license. "The restaurants that we're talking with would be coming in and asking the board for permission to... have that license assigned to them."

Gouchberg added that his firm is currently in talks with two different entities and expects a letter of intent from at least one within the next week.

Board member Daniel C. Bennett pointed out the fact that no officials from Margaritas appeared before the board despite the fact they were called to update the board on their liquor license status.

"I'd like to go on record that we did ask Margaritas to come before us; for certain reasons, they did not," Bennett said.

News of the change in plans came as a surprise to some board members.

"It's all new to me and I'm really shocked about it," said board member William H. Clark, Jr.

The news comes as board member Gardner S. Trask, III and the rest of the board work on language for liquor license reform. Trask noted that between the Crab House closing and the year Margaritas has held the license, the license has remained unused for a fair amount of time.

"It has a license that has not been used for a good three or four years now," Trask said. "We're in the middle of cleaning up our liquor license licensing regulations just to address situations like this."

With the changes proposed at a meeting last month, license holders who do not serve alcohol would have six months to do so, or face possible suspension or revocation of their license.

The idea for the time limit partially stems from some of the six inactive Danvers liquor licenses, including that of Tequilas on Route 1, which closed in June, 2009 after filing bankruptcy. In that case, Danversbank, a lender, held the license and has not yet sold it to another establishment.

Powers agreed with Trask on the town's problems with unused liquor licenses.

"It's been a black hole for a while, license utilization," Powers said.

In a 4-1 vote, with Bennett the sole dissenter, the board requested Harbor Management and management from a restaurant interested in the property and license to appear before the board in 90 days.

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