UPDATED: The Select Board unanimously voted Monday, March 18, to deny a food license to Boston Pizza & Gyro. This occurred after the applicant did not appear at the hearing that evening and after Town Manager Jim Feeney told the board that the applicant had made no progress in resolving various pending health and code violations that had been reviewed at the prior board meeting.

 "I think the rationale for the vote is self-evident," Select Board Chair Eric Helmuth told YourArlington via email March 20.

The board had learned at that previous meeting, March 4, that the local restaurant has been operating without official authorization for more than a year and had been cited previously by the town for violations.

Discussion March 18 indicated that the venue was found to be already locked and with no lights on earlier that day when town authorities went there to attempt yet another inspection.

The future seems dim for Boston Pizza & Gyro, which had served a variety of Mediterranean fare, especially Italian and Greek favorites. This situation came to light earlier this month as Ismail Beyaztas, who owns the restaurant at 1323 Mass. Ave., attended the March 4 meeting seeking approval of a common victualler license. The board quickly discovered that the business had been operating without such a license since February 2023, when it opened its doors.

New measures now being implemented

“I do believe, though I haven’t heard this firsthand, that the owner has been looking to sell the business and will be making attempts to do so," said Feeney on March 18. "But were they to [again] attempt to operate without a license, there’s a series of escalating fines that could be issued through the non-criminal disposition or ticketing process -- and then ultimately if the owner continued to attempt to operate without a license, there is a criminal enforcement mechanism allowed for under statute, so we would continue to regularly monitor the establishment to ensure they were not opening,” 

Arlington’s town counsel, Michael Cunningham, added, “Just to note that the legal department will work with the town manager's office, inspectional services and all other agencies to make sure that the business is not open without a license and that we will work with them on making sure that enforcement provisions are put in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Some town staffers had been aware earlier of concerns about the site. For example, on March 14, Public Health Director Natasha Waden told YourArlington: "Boston Pizza & Gyro were required to attend an in-person meeting with the Health Department staff to discuss some ongoing and repeat food code violations. Some of the violations of concern include hot and cold holding temperatures as well as not having a knowledgeable person in charge, onsite during inspections, who can demonstrate that they are knowledgeable about of food safety practices and the food code."

The overall situation appears to be an unprecedented one, at least in recent town history. “If I could further ask the town manager to brief the board on, I believe, there’s a new procedure in place with the issuance of moving forward issuance of occupancy permits," Helmuth said at the March 18 meeting. "And we’ve put a measure into place to prevent the situation, which we didn’t see coming because it’s never happened before, but to prevent this from happening again.”

Watch March 18 Select Board meeting:

 


March 10, 2024: Heights restaurant operating for nearly 13 months without license, Select Board learns

 This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Jessie Castellano was published Wednesday, March 20, 2024. 


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