Friday, April 19, 2024

The Sinclair, a live-music hall and two-story restaurant, is on track for a fall opening in Harvard Square after the three members of the License Commission approved it Monday at a morning meeting.

Including its new entertainment license that allows bands to perform until midnight Sundays through Wednesdays, until 12:30 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and until 1 a.m. 25 times a year, the 50-52 Church St. venue will more than fill a cavernous space left empty when the Phatt Boys restaurant closed in February 2006. Some people living nearby and at least one square business owner worry about noise, parking problems and public drunkenness, and hired Huron Village attorney Shippen L. Page to argue that the commission should reject the transfer of Phatt Boys’ liquor license and ask for a new application for the live music.

“It can and should consider the prospective overall impact on the community,” Page wrote, noting  a multiperson fight that broke out Nov. 30 at the larger Central Square restaurant and nightclub, The Middle East, as well as residents lacking a chance to look at floor plans and the failure of the businessmen behind The Sinclair to get sign-off from city zoning officials in the time laid out by commission rules.

But the commissioners granted the license transfer and adding nightly capacity by 396 people (and 52 outdoor dining seats) to the current 304.

Alcohol sales are to end when shows stop, and the venue is to get three-month and six-month reviews, according to people who attended the meeting. On issues of parking, however, commissioners said Harvard Square parking garages aren’t used fully and can absorb more visitors.

Opposition was led by Pebble Gifford, who lives just outside Harvard Square and told commissioners Nov. 15, in a roving 20 minutes of testimony, how much she dreaded a return of the drunkenness long-time residents lived through in decades past. She also urged commissioners to look at the kinds of bands booked by The Sinclair’s proponents, The Bowery Presents, noting some that had obscene names and others dressed in Arab garb and wondering if they were “trying to be provocative.”

Despite the lawyer, Gifford’s testimony and a roomful of similarly concerned people, commissioners okayed the plans, giving Harvard Square another live music option (larger than Tommy Doyle’s and more diverse than the jazz-minded Regattabar and folk-focused Passim) and late-night dining.

Resident Charles Teague felt commissioners gave a pass on the delayed zoning official signature only by saying such rules were broken all the time, but his take after attending the meeting wasn’t all negative.

“It’s good to have another performance space,” Teague said, “but I think it’s dying to be in Kendall Square.”