Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A Mountainside restaurateur is renovating the former Highland Place restaurant and plans to re-open it in November with space for entertainment and an outdoor eating area.

Bernie Gonclaves, owner of Publick House in Mountainside, said he is doing the internal construction and plans to bring the location back to business after a two-year shutdown.

Bernie Gonclave
"We are shooting for November, although that is incredibly ambitious of us," Gonclaves told "We just completed the (internal) demo(lition) and are working with the architects and Township for construction."

He confirmed that he plans to lease the space from building owner Masoud Kian, who has been seeking to sell the related liquor license and rent out the location, but has had difficulty during the past year.

At that Township Commitee meeting, on June 23, the TC voted to reject a liquor license renewal request from Kian, who owns the property at 5 Highland Pl. and has also owned the liquor license that he purchased last year from the restaurant's former owner, Chris Farrow.

Gonclave is already renovating the former Highland Place site
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 in June he had been unable to do so. That is when the governing body voted to deny the renewal. 

Inside Gonclave's Publick House in Mountainside
But both Kian and Montiero were back last month asking for a reconsideration and stating that they were in talks with someone to lease the space and utilize the license.

That turned out to be Gonclave, a 41-year-old restaurant veteran who said he first started as a bar owner in Elizabeth at 22.

He said the new eatery will be similar to Publick House, which he opened in 2009, with "modern American food with Spanish influences. We are all about people really enjoying their time in a building that is comfortable." 

Gonclave hopes to have live entertainment in the bar area and in the back as well as a party room, adding that he had not decided on a new name for the site.

Township officials said no formal application to transfer the liquor license has been made, but Gonclave said that will occur soon.

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