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Cask ’n Flagon seeks to open Marshfield restaurant

Liquor license must first be approved

Cask ’n Flagon

An architectural rendering of the Cask ’n Flagon bar-restaurant proposed in Marshfield.

The Cask ’n Flagon, a restaurant and bar with nearly four decades of history in Boston, plans to open a new location in Marshfield.

Cask ’n Flagon

A rendering of the proposed Cask ’n Flagon in Marshfield. The restaurant-bar still needs a liquor license OK from the state.

The owners say they plan to renovate the former AA Buffet, a short-lived restaurant and nightclub that had previously been the HaNaBi, on Route 139, known locally as Plain Street. They intend to eliminate the dance floor and create a sports-pub atmosphere. An artist’s renderings of the interior show a four-sided bar, big-screen televisions, and a news ticker displaying sports scores.

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Dana Van Fleet, co-owner with his brother, Bruce, said the restaurant could open in August, but first it needs approval of its liquor license from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. The Marshfield Board of Selectmen approved a transfer of the liquor license and approved a common victualer’s license and entertainment license last week, but the Van Fleets’ attorney, Robert Galvin, said state approval may take time because the agency is short of help. Local building and health permits will be required as well.

Dana Van Fleet, a Marshfield resident, said the restaurant plans to hire 65 to 80 people. He and his brother will own and manage the Marshfield location, and Northeast Hospitality Group, a separate entity composed of investors, will own the real estate, he said. The Van Fleets are second-generation operators of the Boston location, which they co-own with others.

Word of the Cask ’n Flagon coming to town stirred a wave of enthusiasm among selectmen, who thanked the brothers for investing in Marshfield.

“I can’t wait to have some steak tips,’’ said board chairman John Hall after selectmen approved the licenses.

If approved, the Marshfield site will be the only other Cask ’n Flagon besides the one next to Fenway Park that is so familiar to Red Sox fans. The original Cask ’n Flagon near Northeastern University opened in 1969 and closed in the 1980s, according to Dana Van Fleet.

Van Fleet said Northeast Hospitality Group hopes to close on the property in April and begin construction at the beginning of May.

Opening in the town where he lives has been “a longtime dream,’’ he said. He assured town officials that, as a local, he would be especially motivated to ensure the restaurant maintained its reputation.

“Being a resident in the town myself, it’s very important to me that we run a respectable establishment,’’ he said.

Bruce Van Fleet lives in neighboring Scituate. “We are very excited about the opportunity to be here,’’ he said.

Last week, selectmen questioned the brothers about how they would address any concerns that neighbors might raise. Dana Van Fleet said he would be happy to meet with neighbors, as he does in Boston, and he has met with Marshfield Police Captain Phillip Tavares to discuss the property’s past.

HaNaBi closed and reopened as AA Buffet in the fall of 2010, and its liquor and entertainment licenses were suspended for 90 days in May 2011, after Tavares told officials it was a hotbed of fights, overserved patrons, arrests, and disturbances.

“None of that will be happening,’’ Van Fleet said.

He said all employees will have TIPS certification, which ensures they have been trained to help prevent overconsumption, drunken driving, and underage drinking. Van Fleet said he is well-versed in the training because he has been a TIPS instructor in the past, although he has not maintained the credential.

Although the brothers sought and received an entertainment license, they will use it for a solo guitarist or similar music, not live bands, he said.

Since most patrons will park in the rear, the owners plan to create a front-door feel at both the front and rear, with a Cask ’n Flagon sign and other design touches. Van Fleet said sprucing up the rear would help discourage problems; he cited the “broken windows’’ theory in sociology, which suggests that an unrepaired broken window or other small symbol of decay invites vandalism and crime.

The property is assessed at $1.7 million with just over 2 acres, according to town records. Van Fleet said the 14,000-square-foot building, slightly larger than the space in Boston, will allow them to create a function room for about 100 people.

The Boston Cask ’n Flagon has a nightclub called Oliver’s, but plans for the Marshfield location do not include a nightclub.

In 2006, the Cask ’n Flagon in Boston withdrew controversial plans to add a rooftop patio. At the time, Boston Licensing Board officials said they were unlikely to approve the proposal, which would have created space for 440 people nearly 20 feet off the ground.

The restaurant has renovated other parts of the building, and last week Marshfield Selectman Matt McDonough said he was impressed with the results when he visited the Boston location.

Jennette Barnes can be reached at jennettebarnes@yahoo.com.
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