NORTHAMPTON — A recent state ruling has stalled the Iron Horse Music Hall’s ability to receive an all-alcohol liquor license two months prior to officially opening.

During the License Commission meeting on Feb. 21, Annie Lesko, the administration, licensing and economic development coordinator, announced that the ABCC, or Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, told Northampton that a liquor license could not be awarded to the Iron Horse until the previous owner — Eric Suher — submits a Department of Revenue certificate of good standing to the state.

According to Lesko, the reason for this is because the Parlor Room Collective, the entity that now owns the Iron Horse, purchased assets from Suher, who owned the iconic venue under Iron Horse Music Ventures.

“The executive director of the ABCC … agreed that a DOR certificate would need to come from Iron Horse Music Ventures even for the new special act license that is not tied to Iron Horse Ventures,” Lesko said.

Without the liquor license, the Parlor Room Collective would be unable to serve alcohol at the Iron Horse, which is scheduled to officially open on May 1.

“It’s pretty awful news and really just distressing,” said Natasha Yakolev, the chair of the License Commission, in response to the news, which came hours before the License Commission meeting.

The Parlor Room Collective initially bought the Iron Horse’s name, business assets and liquor license from Suher for a total of $150,000 back in the fall.
The purchase came in the midst of a series of efforts from the Northampton License Commission to force Suher to either sell or reopen his venues, which included The Basement, The Green Room, Calvin Theater, Pearl Street Night Club and Iron Horse.

The License Commission eventually revoked Suher’s Iron Horse liquor license at the Jan. 30 License Commission meeting since Suher continuously failed to provide a certificate of good standing, which proves that he paid his taxes.
Without the certificate, the city’s License Commission could not transfer the liquor license to the Parlor Room Collective.

However, at that same meeting, the License Commission allowed the Parlor Room Collective to apply for one of the seven over-quota all-alcohol licenses that state lawmakers approved for the city.

But Lesko said at the Feb. 21 meeting that the ABCC sent the Parlor Room Collective’s application for the liquor license back to the city with a series of issues that needed to be addressed, including the certificate of good standing.
According to the state, the certificate still needs to be submitted, even if the license the Parlor Room Collective wants is separate from the one it sought in the initial purchase agreement with Suher.

License Commission members were distraught by the situation.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take,” said license commissioner Helen Kahn. “I don’t know if this is about paying taxes; I don’t know if this is really about filing paperwork … but all of Northampton would like this to be resolved.”

Yakolev commended the Parlor Room Collective for its immense commitment in reopening the Iron Horse.

“To say that this is a disappointment for them is a massive understatement,” Yakolev said. “They’ve worked really, really hard for this and for the community at large.”

Representatives from the Parlor Room Collective did not respond to a request for comment about next steps, but Lesko told the License Commission that the Parlor Room’s attorney can try and talk to the ABCC’s federal counsel about their decision.

According to Lesko though, attempts to appeal a decision from the ABCC can often be futile.

“They don’t usually budge on things that they decide,” Lesko said.

Suher, who was present during the Feb. 21 License Commission meeting, did not respond to the commission about the ABCC’s decision.

The License Commission also decided during the Feb. 21 meeting to continue its discussion around one of Suher’s other venues, the Calvin Theater, so they can find out if the liquor license attached to that venue will run into similar challenges.

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

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.

The Iron Horse, meanwhile, is expected to open on May 1 and host its first show on May 15. The Parlor Room Collective announced its first slate of shows a couple of weeks ago.

Readers can learn more about updates regarding the Iron Horse’s opening by reading Reminder Publishing’s previous coverage: www.thereminder.com/dining/features/iron-horse-announces-initial-show-dates-for-inaugu/.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts