Commission revokes Suher liquor license

Last modified: 5/9/2014 3:55:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The city’s License Commission Wednesday voted 2-1 to revoke one of businessman Eric Suher’s two idle liquor licenses after he failed to meet several deadlines for opening a 26-28 Center St. establishment he calls the Green Room.

License Commission Chairman William Rosen said the board was enforcing state law that prohibits “pocket licenses,” or liquor licenses that are held but never used.

Suher, who owns Iron Horse Entertainment Group, has been renovating the Center Street space but has not yet made good on promises to the commission that it would be open earlier this year.

“After a series of missed deadlines, we invoked the law in this case and said it is our obligation to consider this a pocket license,” Rosen said Wednesday night of the 2-1 vote. “He has the right to appeal this to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston, and the state can either uphold our decision or restore the license.”

In October, the city’s attorney advised the commission that it would be within its rights to consider Suher’s two licenses for the Green Room and the former Baptist Church at 298 Main St. pocket licenses because they had been held for years without being used. Suher came before the commission in November and was given 60 days to open the Green Room, a cocktail lounge, and until June 14 to open the wedding and conference space he has planned for the former church.

Suher missed the January deadline, but told the commission in February that the Green Room space had the necessary permits and was ready to open by April 1, when the seasonal liquor license would allow for the sale of alcohol. He told the Gazette at the time that the space was open for “certain things,” but it is not yet up and running.

Suher could not be reached for comment Wednesday night, but has said in the past that his licenses should not be considered pocket licenses because they are attached to specific addresses. He obtained the license he plans to use for the Green Room in 2008, Rosen said.

According to published reports, Suher asked the commission Wednesday to give him two weeks to open the Green Room so both he and the city could avoid the costs of the appeal process. He has five days to appeal the decision.

Rosen and commission member Stephanie Levin voted for revoking the license while Brian Campedelli voted against it.

As to whether revoking the license will doom the long-empty Center Street space, formerly Blue Note Guitars, to being vacant indefinitely, Rosen said it is not the commission’s job to worry about it.

“Our jurisdiction is just to enforce the laws of the commonwealth regarding liquor licenses,” he said.

Usually, liquor licenses in the city sell for thousands of dollars because they are in short supply. But if Suher does have to give up the seasonal all-alcohol liquor license, Rosen said the city would issue it to any eligible business for just the annual fee of $1,050.

Suher will still have to appear before the License Commission at its monthly meetings to report on the progress of the former Baptist Church. Rosen said that based on Suher’s comments at Wednesday’s meeting, it seemed “doubtful” that he would make the mid-June deadline for that property.

Rosen said that while the city and Suher have squabbled over these two licenses, the businessman is an “exemplary licensee” as far as he is concerned.

“This doesn’t reflect on him as a licensee. His other venues are great. They’re good for the city,” Rosen said. The Iron Horse Entertainment Group runs the Calvin Theatre, the Iron Horse Music Hall and Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at


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