Pittsfield Licensing Board approves liquor licenses for two new restaurants / iBerkshires.com

The former Lakeway in Portsmitt reopens as a grill joint.


The former Papa Gino’s on Merrill Road is closed after nearly half a century in business. The site will reopen as a Mexican restaurant.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts – Two new restaurants are on the horizon for the city.

The Licensing Board on Monday approved the transfer of a full seven-day liquor license from Lakeway Restaurant in Portsmouth to Old Man Jeffs, which will be managed by Jeffrey Yeager, former associate vice president of planning and reporting at Guardian Life Insurance Co.

The council also approved an application for a seasonal restaurant license with all alcoholic beverages for El Habanero Mexican Grill, which plans to open at the former Papa Gino’s on Merrill Road.

In retirement, Yeager has devoted himself to becoming a boat manager and plans to open a grill establishment at the closed restaurant on Peck’s Road. Portsmitt closed in November 2020, due to financial pressures from the pandemic.

“I’ve been in charge of operations at Guardian Life for 30 years, retired, hit the road, barbecue trained, and done competition barbecues for two years studying at some of the top brewers in the country, sort of did it for a while and I can’t cook a lot of food for myself,” adding that he was excited because he had always wanted to run a grill.

Yeager said he would like to focus initially on the “energy hours,” or early lunches and dinners. The Board of Directors approved the restaurant’s operating hours from noon to 11 pm, although it does not plan to open this restaurant late.

“I just want to say we’ve been through this pandemic, and there have been many companies that have gone ahead and tried to work with them to get into an opportunity like this, so I’m sure there are a lot of people involved in this that are delighted that this is going forward,” said Board Member Cathy Amoso.

“So it’s good to see this because we’ve been talking about this business and a couple of others and the pandemic has hit her hard and it would be good to see this open up and move on.”

Attorney William Martin explained that Portsmit’s liquor license was the subject of a lien with the Pittsfield Co-operative Bank and had been seized by the bank.

Martin said negotiations were underway so the license could be transferred from its original entity to Yeager because it’s the cleanest way to do it.

The real estate purchase and sale agreement calls for closure after the Liquor Control Committee approves the transfer, although the purchase of the property may close earlier once all the committee’s questions have been answered so it can be prepared for opening.

Martin added that Yeager and his wife are committed to running the restaurant as a passion and their energy and unique approach he feels will be very successful.

On Merrill Road, Armando Chairs plans to open El Habanero Mexican Grill at former Papa Gino’s, which closed in October last year after nearly 50 years in business.

Chaires explained that he had owned two restaurants before, one of which was Taste of Mexico in Albany, New York. Apply for an alcoholic beverage license to serve drinks such as beer, wine, and margaritas with his food.

The Council approved the institution’s working hours from 11 am to 11 pm

In other news, the board also suggested that the Parkside restaurant on West Housatonic Street have its last call at 11 p.m. and that all customers are out of the establishment by 11:30 p.m. after three disruptions occurred during April and May.

Owner Roberta Casella, whose family has owned the bar for nearly 40 years, was outraged by the violent incidents and agreed to the proposal.

He said he doesn’t want to set the hours too early, as he’s allowed to work until 2am, but he does want to find a solution to remedy the unruly behavior of customers.

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