Hoo boy. More drama at the month-old Shaw's Tavern, which shut its doors this weekend following countless delays in opening, a citation from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration in its first week of service, a major management shuffle, and a month of operating without a liquor license. The restaurant took to Facebook on Friday night, writing, "We could not survive without a liquor license. We will re-open when we are allowed to serve alcohol."
But then there's the backstory. Head chef John Cochran tells Eater that owner Abbas Fathi walked into the tavern five minutes before Friday's dinner service announcing that he was shutting it down. Though Cochran says his job was safe, he decided to resign in protest of the decision that laid off the rest of the staff. He also says he offered to lease the restaurant from Fathi to keep it open, but that offer was rejected. The chef says he finds the owner's decision baffling: "He's more or less doing what he has to do. I wish I could say I understood that, but I don't."
Fathi, for his part, tells Eater that it was entirely a business decision — Shaw's Tavern was just plain losing money by being a tavern that didn't serve any alcohol. As for that abrupt Friday closing? Fathi says he made the decision to close at 2 p.m. on Friday. The original intention was to close the restaurant on Saturday night, but with Hurricane Irene coming that day, they decided to just go ahead and close immediately. Fathi says that the employees he just laid off are welcome to come back once that liquor license comes through — but when asked how optimistic he was that it would come through, the owner replied that he had "no idea."
And as for the liquor license issue itself — with allegations floating around that the tavern allegedly doctored some documents to illegally obtain alcohol from wholesalers — Fathi declined to comment on the matter. But Cochran sure did: "It's so confusing all of what went down. All I can tell you is that the alcohol board was making their decision and they had every right to take their time. Shaw's was in the wrong."
Stay tuned for the inevitable continuation of this saga.
· Shaw's Tavern Cited For Operating Without A License [-EDC-]
· General Manager Steven May Steps Out Of Shaw's Tavern [-EDC-]
· All Shaw's Tavern Coverage [-EDC-]