NORTHAMPTON — After months of delaying the decision, the Northampton License Commission unanimously voted to cancel the liquor license attached to the Calvin Theatre during its recent meeting on March 20.

The decision comes after current owner Eric Suher failed to produce a certificate of good standing from the state’s Department of Revenue, which is proof that the owner has filed and fully paid taxes to the state.

“We’ve been talking now about [the Calvin License] since I was a very young woman; I’m older and wiser now,” License Commission member Helen Kahn said sarcastically, when referring to the months the commission spent on discussing the license. “I’m strongly in support of cancelling it.”

Currently, Suher is in negotiations with The Bowery Presents and Alex Crothers, the owner of High Ground in Burlington, Vermont, to sell the Calvin Theatre.

The Bowery Presents, which was founded in New York City in 2004, operates 30 venues across the Northeast, according to their website, including venues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and many more. Some of their venues include the Roadrunner in Boston, Terminal 5 in New York City, The Sinclair in Cambridge and Westville Music Bowl in New Haven.

Jim Glancy, a co-president of The Bowery, stated at a License Commission meeting in October 2023 that nationally-known acts like LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Interpol and My Morning Jacket got their start performing at Bowery venues.

Although the License Commission made the decision to cancel the liquor license, Annie Lesko, the city’s administration, licensing and economic development coordinator, said that the license can still be issued to the new owners as opposed to losing it to the state.

That is because, according to Lesko, the city recently became “at quota” with their licenses.

“All indications point to the commission holding the license and reissuing it to the new owners of the Calvin — when that happens,” Lesko told Reminder Publishing.

Glancy called a liquor license “critical” to the theater’s success.


This is not the first time the city has faced obstacles with a Suher liquor license.

The city spent months trying to get Suher to either reopen or sell his music venues in the city, which, at the time, included The Basement, The Green Room, Calvin Theatre, Pearl Street Night Club and Iron Horse Music Hall. The venues sat mostly dormant for several years.

In February 2023, the city’s License Commission decided to revoke one of the liquor licenses attached to one of his venues. Suher then appealed the revocation to the state before he and the commission came to an agreement in May that gave him until Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. to either open the venues himself, sell them, or risk losing the all-alcohol liquor licenses attached to the venues.

Suher successfully transferred the Green Room liquor license to Berkshire Farm Collective after submitting a certificate of good standing. The collective officially reopened the Green Room this past week.

The transfer of Suher’s other licenses, however, has not gone as smoothly.
The Parlor Room Collective, which bought the Iron Horse’s name, business assets and liquor license from Suher for a total of $150,000 back in the fall, is struggling to obtain the all-alcohol liquor license portion because of Suher’s inability to submit the certificate of good standing.

The Iron Horse is expected to open on May 1 and has a slate of shows already scheduled throughout the year, but without a liquor license, the venue would not be able to serve alcohol. Readers can learn more about what happened with that situation by visiting Reminder Publishing’s prior coverage at thereminder.com/LOCALNEWS/northampton/suher-halts-liquor-license-process-for-iron-horse/.

The liquor license attached to The Basement was initially supposed to go to John Piskor, the owner of Gombo Nola Kitchen & Oyster Bar on 159 Main St., but was also cancelled because of Suher’s inability to obtain a certificate of good standing.

Piskor was finally able to obtain an all-alcohol liquor license after the License Commission, during the March 20 meeting, decided to grant him one of the seven extra “Special Act” licenses state lawmakers approved for the city back in the fall.

This means that six of those seven licenses have been awarded to businesses in the city. The other one was supposed to be awarded to the Parlor Room Collective for the Iron Horse but is currently in limbo because of Suher’s inability to provide the certificate of good standing.

Suher claimed earlier this winter that reason for failing to obtain a certificate of good standing for The Basement and Iron Horse is because tax returns from the two businesses still needed to be completed and would not be finished in a reasonable amount of time.

The Pearl Street license was officially canceled during the Oct. 2, 2023 License Commission meeting, as a buyer has not been found yet.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts