Thursday, June 23, 2016


The saga of the former Highland Place restaurant, which has been closed for nearly two years, hit another bump on Tuesday when the Township Committee denied a request to extend the liquor license for owners of the property.

Masoud Kian, who owns the property at 5 Highland Place, has also owned the liquor license for the location, which he purchased last year from the restaurant's former owner, Chris Farrow.

Farrow initially lost the license after failing to pay taxes, which prompted him to shutdown the restaurant in August 2014. The license was to have been auctioned off by the state, but the auction was cancelled after Kian and Farrow indicated a deal to have it transferred.

Kian said at the time he wanted to lease the space to someone who would run the business and utilize the liquor license. But his attorney, Nelson Montiero, told the TC Tuesday night he has been unable to do so.

"My client is more than desperate to have this place running," Montiero told the TC. "That building without a liquor license is not worth the money."

Kian was not at the meeting because it was his birthday, Montiero said. 

But Mayor Vic Deluca did not accept that excuses, stating, "We were here a year ago when your client came before us and represented that he had all intentions of taking the license and he owns the property and recruiting someone to run the restaurant/bar here. In the year or so, we haven't really seen much happening, quite honestly ... people have been disappointed in your client's lack of movement in getting the place back open."

Other TC members agreed.

"I'm doubtful of the veracity from which your client has been trying to rent this restaurant," said Nancy Adams. "Its absence has really had a negative impact on Maplewood Village."

TC member India Larrier suggested renting it out without a liquor license: "People bring their own."

In the end, the TC voted, 4-1, not to renew the license, with TC Member Greg Lembrich the lone supportive vote. The license was up for renewal along with all of those in town that must be renewed annually and which would expire on June 30.

Montiero told the Township his client would appeal.  

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