The Brotherhood of Thieves on Broad Street will be back before the Planning Board tonight seeking to modify its outdoor patio operation, but the proposed changes have already sparked an outcry from the bar and restaurant’s neighbors.
The Brotherhood, which reopened under new ownership last spring, is seeking to allow walk-up and stand-up food and beverage service on its outdoor patio, along with “low-level, recorded background music” from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The capacity of the patio - currently set at 80 patrons - would remain unchanged.
Inside the restaurant, the Brotherhood is seeking to allow live music at its upstairs area until 11 p.m., and downstairs until 1 a.m.
Allowing music outdoors “would bring the locus more in line with similar establishments in the downtown area and is consistent with the way the locus had historically been operated,” the Brotherhood’s attorney Sarah Alger wrote to the Planning Board.
Regarding the walk-up and stand-up food and beverage service on the patio, “this change would allow events such as Chamber of Commerce business after hours to be held in this area, something that is precluded by the current MCD (major commercial development) decision.”
The proposed expansion of the operation includes some of the elements originally proposed by the new ownership group - led by Henry Helgeson and Cisco Brewers CEO Jay Harman - when it acquired the Brotherhood property in June 2021 for $7.9 million. Its proposal for a mini-Cisco Brewers was met with significant pushback from neighbors of the property, and it opted to reopen the restaurant with essentially the same operation as the previous Brotherhood ownership group of Ted Burnham, EJ Harvey, Edward Sanford and Larry Whelden, who ran it from 2004 to 2020.
A group of two dozen neighbors submitted an 8-page letter to the Planning Board last month outlining their concerns about the expansion being sought by the Brotherhood for 2023:
“The neighborhood that directly abuts the Brotherhood’s location on Broad Street is residential and quiet portion of the Historic District and is comprised of many families who have lived on Nantucket for decades,” they wrote. “Moreover, there is simply no need for the expansion of the Brotherhood’s operations. From a business perspective, the Brotherhood enjoyed a successful opening season with high volumes of customers. There is simply no need to expand the Brotherhood’s operations in a manner that only strives to increase the volumes at which the Brotherhood is allowed to operate. Nor does the Applicant explain why it is necessary to permit the Brotherhood’s capacity to be met by standing patrons rather than seated customers. The only explanation for this request is to make it more difficult to enforce the capacity limit. Instead, the present Application appears to be a vehicle by which the Applicant hopes to take another step in the direction of a renewed application to convert the Brotherhood’s outdoor patio into a live music venue and brewery of the sort envisioned by the Applicant when it originally filed its application to operate the venue just last year. This creep should not be permitted to proceed.”
That letter was among six others - including one from the Land Bank, which has an office across the street - that raised concerns about the Brotherhood’s proposal.
The Planning Board staff, in its report to board members ahead of tonight’s meeting, stated that they are “generally supportive of the request, and suggests that the Board discuss how the first year in operation went under the new ownership and how these changes may or may not have an impact.”
The Brotherhood’s new general manager, Jonas Baker, declined to comment on the proposal until after the hearing tonight. Reached by email, Harman said “I’m not involved with the Brotherhood.”
The Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 10th at 4 p.m. Watch live on YouTube at this link.