As expected, Frank Martino and the city are heading to Boston Dec. 5 over Martino's Route 1 package store and deli.
Martino, through attorney John Keilty, has appealed the Peabody Licensing Board's denial of a beer and wine license for the store to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
The city board denied the request last month, questioning Martino's sincerity to operate a package store in Peabody. The board then met in executive session Nov. 19 to discuss legal strategy with City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski.
The main reason for the Licensing Board's reticence to grant Martino a license was because he had just sold his full liquor license Trader Joe's for a tidy profit less than a year after receiving it from the city (at a fraction of the cost), and was asking for a new license to replace that one.
That did not sit well with board members. They argued Martino should have just turned in his license to the city and asked to downgrade to a beer and wine license, as other establishments have done in the past.
Board Chairman Minas Dakos said even if he was in the same situation -- offered $205,000 by Trader Joe's -- he would never have sold the license because it was integral to his own operation.
Keilty told reporters after the October hearing he would be filing an appeal with the ABCC on the grounds the board's rejection was unwarranted. He said Martino was a "fit" businessman to run a package store and that should have been the board's main consideration.
"[The business] was designed for what I did, but the offer was insane," Martino said, referring to Trader Joe's.
He argued he never intended to sell the license, but eventually did so due to a combination of lackluster sales of hard liquor and what the neighborhood grocer was offering to pay.
The board did approve the transfer to Trader Joe's, effectively leaving Martino with plenty of alcohol, but no license for his store.
As of last week, Martino and Trader Joe's had not signed the closing documents yet on the sale, according to Licensing Board Clerk Julie Rydzewski, and therefore Martino still retained control of the license and could remain open.