July 13 2018

What is Going on With the Burlington Beer Works Project?

By: Rich Hosford

A Burlington restaurant project long in the making seems to have been stalled, a situation that might prompt action from town leaders.


The Burlington Beer Works slated to enter the location at 34 Cambridge Street in the Crossroads Plaza formerly home to Outback Steakhouse appears no closer to opening than it did a year ago. The project was first brought to the town in 2015 and after some changes and modifications to the plan was issued a building permit in February of this year.


Even by the time The Slesar Bros. Brewing Company, the entity that owns the local franchise, completed all the necessary steps to get that building permit the project had drawn the ire of some Burlington officials. In December of 2017 and January of 2018 the Board of Selectmen held public hearings to consider revoking the liquor license previously granted to the business for what they said was an unnecessary delay.


“It’s been two to three years,” Selectman Joseph Morandi said during the December 18, 2017 meeting. “Why can’t you get it done?”


Attorney Paul Sporn, representing the business, said during that meeting that unlike many of the restaurant groups that move into Burlington, Slesar Brewing is a small, family owned, operation. He insisted Joseph Slesar, the owner, was working in good faith to get the project completed as soon as possible.

Morandi expressed doubt.

I think he is sitting on his hands,” he said. “I think he’s playing a big game with us.”

On December 18, Sporn said that once a small issue with the Planning Board was cleared up and the building permit was granted work would begin “within 10 days.”


With those assurances the board voted to not revoke the liquor license during its January 22 meeting. During that meeting Town Administrator John Petrin said he had had further talks with Sporn and made it clear to him and to Slesar that there could be no further delay.


“Part of the conversation with Mr. Sporn is no fooling around,” Petrin told the board. “This needs to be done immediately and if there is any more slowdown on their part the board will reconvene a hearing for revocation.”


According to Burlington Building Department records the building permit was issued on February 6, 2018. On Wednesday, July 11, the Building Department told BNEWS the permit had not been picked up by the business and that no work had been started.


When the board voted not to revoke the license in January the selectmen did not set a specific time for work to begin or be completed but stressed there should be no further delay. Petrin said he had been told construction would be completed by June of this year.


Now, in July, six months after the building permit was issued, Board of Selectmen Chairman Chris Hartling told BNEWS it doesn’t appear to him the project is moving along as promised and that the board should take another look at the matter.


There’s nothing that suggests the business owner is acting with any of the urgency they talked about when they were before us,” he said. “I think a reasonable amount of time has passed and it is time for us to revisit this issue publically as a board.”


Hartling added that the town’s liquor licenses are meant to generate revenue for the town through Burlington’s meals tax. He also said that the board wants to see Crossroads Plaza, which has undergone big changes in the last year, to be successful. A new restaurant, not a vacant building, might help that success.


A request for an interview with Mr. Slesar, sent two days before the publication of this article, received no response.


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