HARWICH — There are changes coming to the former Irish Pub property adjacent to the Herring River in West Harwich. The pub is gone, and selectmen have approved a seasonal liquor license for a new restaurant and inn, the Summer House Cafe.
The owners of the new business are planning to establish an inn and full restaurant in the 220-year-old Captain Caleb Chase house, and say they are committed to working with the neighbors to better blend into the neighborhood.
“It’s something new for Harwich, less rough and tumble than the Irish Pub,” owner Nicholas Fiorillo told the selectmen.
Partners Fiorillo and Thomas Paulini were before the board last week seeking a transfer of the seasonal all-alcohol liquor license from Phoenix Park, LLC, d/b/a The Cape Cod Irish Pub, to Chase Escape Cape Cod, LLC, d/b/a The Summer House Cafe, with Paulini as manager.
The hearing was originally scheduled for May 3, but permitting and inspection issues led to its postponement to the selectmen’s May 24 meeting.
A pre-opening health department inspection, required for the issuance of the food service license, had not yet occurred at the time of the hearing. The health department’s next meeting is scheduled for June 15, but once the inspection is conducted the health department can issue a temporary food service permit until the health board acts.
Building Commissioner Ray Chesley said that building permits have been issued, so he had no problem with the selectmen moving forward with the issuance of the liquor license.
Police Chief David Guillemette said that the managers have no disqualifying criminal records, but he cited two state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission violations, one for Fiorillo and one for Paulini. Fiorillo said he has two licenses for restaurants in Boston and told selectmen the violation in 2016 happened during a large gathering at which a family member was underage. The person was not drinking, he said, but a bottle of wine was placed in front of the underage member of the group.
Paulini was cited for over-serving a patron in 2003. He said he has been serving alcohol for 44 years, and that one violation over that period is a good record.
Fiorillo described himself as a real estate developer who recently moved to Harwich with his family. He has built a number of large-scale houses from Nantucket to Dedham, and his plan for the former Irish Pub is to develop a full-service inn and restaurant and to provide entertainment.
Asked by neighbor Ginny Doyle if he was renting the property, Fiorillo said he has entered into a 20-year lease with an option to purchase the property, adding that he expects to acquire it sooner rather than later.
“I’m in it for the long haul,” he said, adding that he was committed to addressing the 40 years of deferred maintenance on the historic Captain Caleb Chase house.
“I’m in tune with what needs to happen in Harwich,” Fiorillo said. “I don’t intend on bringing anything there from the past relative to entertainment. I will work with the neighbors.”
There are food service limitations for the establishment based on the need for a new septic system. A new system will be installed in the fall, Fiorillo said. Selectman Mary Anderson said that there are water conservation restrictions put in place by the board of health requiring that food be prepared off the premises and prohibiting the use of dishware and glasses.
Paulini said that food would be prepared off-site and served on high-end plastic dinnerware.
“I’m excited to see the work being done on the building,” said neighbor Sally Urbano.
Urbano cautioned the owners about sound carrying along the adjacent Herring River. Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine said the entertainment times would be set with the issuance of a license and would be similar to other licenses issued in town.
Lou Urbano welcomed the new business to the neighborhood. “It sounds almost too good,” he said. He also raised issues about parking. There are 50 to 60 parking spaces along the side of the establishment, and he said he did not want to see vehicles from lodging guests and patrons parked along the streets in the neighborhood.
“The vision has to meet practicality,” he said.
More people are doing ride sharing or using Uber transportation these days, which reduces the amount of parking necessary, Fiorillo said.
“I don’t think Uber is an answer to Harwich’s parking problems,” Urbano said.
Doyle said the neighbors have been active in the establishment of Captains’ Row, an effort to revitalize the historic setting along that section of Route 28. She said that the residents would be keeping an eye on the activities at the establishment.
Fiorillo said he would be glad to share information relating to other projects he has done through his real estate company, Ocean Vacations, and he would meet with the neighbors.
“I’m prepared to shepherd this property,” Fiorillo said.