City begins process to strip C.F. Donovan's liquor license

The Boston Licensing Board has started proceedings that could end with bar owner Arthur Donovan losing his valuable liquor license for his C. F. Donovan's Bar and restaurant on Savin Hill Ave.

Donovan is already close to losing another liquor license he's held for nearly three years for a Cleary Square, Hyde Park restaurant that has never opened. The city closed his popular Dorchester location in November for failing to make payments on $300,000 in city loans used to get the Hyde Park location open.

Donovan failed to appear at a licensing-board hearing in Boston City Hall this morning. Board members will meet again on Thursday to consider what to do about a citation issue by Boston Police last month for not serving liquor. Board Chairman Daniel Pokaski said the board won't strip Donovan of the Savin Hill license then, but could set a six-month time limit for him to either sell the license or re-start the business.

Because Boston has only a set number of liquor licenses, they are valuable commodities - and license holders are required to either use them, sell them or give them up.

Boston Police Det. Kevin McGill told the licensing board this morning he drove by the Savin Hill location around 9:30 p.m. and found it closed, with paper on the inside of the windows. A follow-up location showed the restaurant remained shut and he issued a citation for failure to comply with city license regulations.

In a related development, the president of the bank which holds the mortgage on the property said the bank had no role in the closing last year.

"It is absolutely untrue that we shut [C.F. Donovan's] down," Mt. Washington Bank CEO Ed Merritt said today in an interview. "After he (Donovan) abandoned the property, we cleaned it up. We did not shut it down."

He said the bank "did everything we can to work with the owner," and added, "We're hoping that soon there will be a foreclosure auction, and it will be transferred to someone who will operate it. We know how important that is to the community."

The banker said an auction could take place before spring.

"We're looking at a time frame of February or March," he told the Reporter.

Reporter publisher Ed Forry and Universal Hub's Adam Gaffin contributed to this report.