In Reversal, Haverhill License Commission Rescinds Liquor Permit for Napoli’s Tavern Add-on Bar

Richard LeClaire with his lawyer, Bryan E. Chase. (WHAV News photograph.)

Plans for Napoli’s Tavern, at the corner of Cedar and Eighth Avenue, are, at best, on hold after the Haverhill License Commission voted last Thursday to reverse its earlier approval of a full liquor license.

Catherine Weeden, Cedar Street homeowner, voiced objections to licensing the bar. (WHAV News photograph.)

Neighbors expressed the same complaints raised March 2, but this time, the Commission came to a different conclusion when Chairman Joseph C. Edwards changed his vote.

“His license is not going to be given out to him today or until you have something from somebody that says we couldn’t do that,” Edwards said, acknowledging the likelihood of an appeal by applicant Richard LeClaire.

Edwards made the motion to rescind the license which was backed by Commissioner Patrick J. Driscoll, who also voting against granting the license last month. Commissioner Laura Angus stood behind her original vote in favor.

LeClair’s lawyer, Bryan E. Chase, is expected to ask the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston to overturn the local decision.

LeClaire told commissioners in March he planned to make Napoli’s Tavern, 119 Cedar St., an extension of Napoli’s Pizza on White Street, but with reheated pizza and alcoholic beverages.

Neighbor Martha Meads testifies before the Haverhill License Commission. (WHAV News photograph.)

As she did in March, neighbor Martha Meads objected to the bar’s opening, saying previous operations there brought litter and illicit activity.

“I hate to say it because I live there, but who’s going to go to Cedar Street for reheated pizza? ‘Oh, come on kids. Let’s go to Cedar Street.’ No. No one is going to go to Cedar Street unless they want a drink,” she said.

LeClair countered his product is not the same as, what he called, reheated “gas station pizza.”

“Napoli’s pizza is unlike any other. Unless you get it right out of the oven, it goes cold like that. Everybody—most everybody—reheats it before they eat it at home. This is the only pizza in the world that tastes better reheated in a high heat, convection-type oven than it does in any place else,” he said.

According to a Feb. 7 filing in the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds, LeClair paid $105,000 for the Cedar Street property. The property was most recently owned by a company known as “The Other Place,” which was also the name of a former bar at the location. The property was first developed in 1955 by John and Eleanor Serratore. According to their son, Roger, the family began a package store at the location, but when they couldn’t compete with a larger upstart, Kappy’s, they operated a bar, called “The Office,” for 30 years. It was later sold and became “The Avenue Tavern,” Serratore told WHAV.

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