For Montclair Local

On its second attempt to sell its new liquor license, Montclair approved a $1.051 million transfer to real estate investor and Montclair restaurateur David Placek of Placek Enterprises, LLC.

Placek, former owner of the now-closed Little Bear poke restaurant on Bellevue Avenue and Mezoco at the Walnut Street Train Station, was the sole bidder for the town’s 13th consumption liquor license. The township council accepted the bid on Dec. 17, confirming a 10 percent deposit of $105,100 due by Dec. 31.

Reached by phone this week, Placek did not give specifics on how and where he’ll use the liquor license.

“We do have some exciting plans in the works that we think will be a great fit for the vibrant dining scene in Montclair,” he said.

The number of liquor licenses in each New Jersey municipality depends on population. The rate is one plenary retail consumption (e.g. restaurant/bar) liquor license for every 3,000 people, as per 1947 state law. Distribution  (e.g. liquor store) licenses are one per 7,500 residents.

The most recent estimate of Montclair’s population, from July 2018, was 39,277 — an increase of 0.77 percent attributable to more multi-family housing units, which made the town eligible for its 13th plenary consumption license.

The bidding process that ended with Placek’s successful bid was the second attempt by the town to sell the 13th plenary license. A previous bidding process took place between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11, 2019, and passed without a response to the required minimum bid of $1 million.

The second round of bidding began in November, with Placek Enterprises submitting a bid on Dec. 3.

The last time a license went up for sale was in February 2018, when Dai Kichi restaurant sold theirs to Montclair 401, LLC, for a town record $1.25 million.

“It’s not the most expensive in this area, if you look at surrounding towns,” said Communications Director Katya Wowk. “Liquor licenses can be somewhat of a rare commodity, as they’re allocated by population, so owners hang on to them. Unless the state changes the way in which they’re distributed, they’ll be expensive. It’s like the taxi medallion costs before Uber and Lyft came along.”

It’s important for restaurants to be able to sell liquor or come up with creative ways to add alcoholic beverage options like allowing patrons to bring their own wine and beer, she noted.

Placek, the new license owner, is the managing partner of Community Investment Partners and has more than 16 years of experience in property acquisitions, financing and management, according to his LinkedIn profile.

His investments include multi-family, retail, office, industrial, redevelopment and mixed-use properties. A graduate of the University of Southern California, he currently resides in Montclair with his wife, Bridget and their three children.