Photo: At the initial meeting on the transfer of a full alcohol license with Selectmen Williams (left) and Paolillo.
The Loading Dock‘s owner Faud Mukarker will be before the Belmont Board of Selectman on Monday seeking a second town-issued alcohol license for his Brighton Street establishment, coming less than four months after his controversial transfer of his town-issued retail all-alcohol liquor license for a $400,000 “compensation fee” to the regional supermarket chain Star Market.
And when the Belmont businessman makes his request before the board at its Jan. 9 meeting, one selectman will be asking Mukarker to voluntarily place a “no transfer” restriction to the license.
“I’ll ask [Mukarker] to prospectively put a limitation on the transfer of [a new] license,” said Selectmen Chair Mark Paolillo at the board’s final working session of 2016 in December.
Mukarker is seeking an On-Premises retail liquor license – commonly referred to as a “pouring license” – which the Selectmen can grant to restaurants, hotels, clubs, taverns, or war veterans clubs. The license fee and its annual renewal is $4,000.
Paolillo said due to the use and then “sale” of the all retail license issued by the board to Mukarker in May 2014; he has “concerns” a new permit would become principally a financial asset to the businessman rather than a license to serve beer and wine.
“I’m only asking that the license stays at least with the property,” said Paolillo.
Mukarker did not respond to a pair of requests for comments this past week.
What makes Mukarker’s current application noteworthy is the Belmont entrepreneur’s history with board-issued alcohol permits. A year after being awarded a retail liquor license at a public meeting in May 2015, Mukarker sought and received permission from the Board of Selectmen to use the license as collateral for a $300,000 loan to keep his new business solvent.
Around the same time, Mukarker requested the town to add a pour license to the existing retail permit but was informed existing state law prevented the town from issuing more than one license to a single entity. That law was changed this summer by the Legislature.
During the spring and summer of 2016, Mukarker began “shopping around” the retail license, according to Belmont retailers, seeking to transfer the permit which he described
Mukarker was able to attempt the transfer his license when it was discovered that the enabling legislation granting the town additional licenses failed to have language written in a 2006 bill establishing alcohol sales in Belmont placing limitations on the movement and “sale” of licenses.
After two public meetings, the Board of Selectmen voted on Oct. 6, 2-1, to approve the transfer. Selectmen Jim Williams and Sami Baghdady voted for the Star Market acceptance stating there was no legal impediment to the move. Paolillo said at the time he believed the license should have been returned to the town. At that time both Star Market and Mukarker could apply for permits, starting the public application process which would required hearings and public meetings.
In December, the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission OK’d the transfer. Later that month, Star Market opened its new alcohol department in the Waverley Square store.
Mukarker’s transfer raised hackles from residents and town businesses who noted the licenses were created by Town Meeting to be issued to small locally-owned retailers.
The mostly negative reaction by residents to the transfer is one of the impetus for a possible Special Town Meeting in February to address the question of transferability of town-issued liquor licenses.
But before a Town Meeting convenes. Paolillo said the board could only ask Mukarker to voluntarily impose a ban on any future transfer of the license.
“We as a board can only deny a license for established reasons including traffic, noise, and proximity to schools and houses of worship,” he said.
“Right now, we can’t impose restrictions to collateralize or transfer a license,” said Paolillo.