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Owner of ‘Who’s on First’ files to reopen with new name

The owner of Who’s on First, a Fenway bar that was closed last year after a fatal shooting, has filed a petition to reopen the bar under a new name. The city’s licensing board is set to hear the request next week.

According to the petition filed by owner Robert Paratore, The Bullpen would replace the longtime Yawkey Way bar where 29-year-old train conductor Jephthe Chery was killed and three others were injured in gunfire last year. The bar had a long history of violent incidents before the deadly shooting, leading the Red Sox, who hold the lease for the space, to close the bar last year.


The Red Sox would have to approve of Paratore’s plans to revamp and reopen the bar, Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran said.

“There are ongoing discussions about the future of the space, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time,” Curran said. John W. Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox, also owns the Globe.

Neither Paratore nor his attorney Jack Diamond could be reached.

Fenway community leaders who had sought the closing of Who’s on First said they were troubled that the bar could be allowed to reopen.

“It’s the kind of thing that given the track record, I would think [the community] would not be pleased knowing it’s the same operator,” said Richard Giordano, director of community organizing for the Fenway Community Development Corporation. “Certainly we’re concerned.”

“Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior,” said Lauren Dewey Platt, president of the Fenway Community Center’s Board of Directors. “He has shown us in his past behavior how he operates. This is not what the neighborhood was expecting.”

City Councilor Josh Zakim, who represents the neighborhood, was unaware that Paratore had applied to open a new venue under a different name.


“I would oppose anything that resembles the last establishment,” Zakim said. “I would hope this applicant reaches out to the community, to me, and the police about our concerns to make sure that whatever goes in there will not be a problem.”

After Chery’s death in November, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the bar had “been nothing but a nuisance” as far back as his time as a captain in District D4, which includes Fenway, and commended Red Sox officials for working to shut down the bar.

A Boston police spokesman said this week that the department does not want to see a repeat of past problems.

“If under the same ownership, we want information about what kind of business it will be,” Boston Police spokesman Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy said. “Our role is to make sure it’s a safe place.”

The city’s licensing board, which will hear the name change request March 9, ruled in December that Who’s On First did not violate the terms of its liquor license when Chery was killed Nov. 26. It was the ninth time the bar’s owner was called to appear before the board to address public safety concerns that included assaults, shootings, and stabbings inside and outside the bar since 2001, according to city records.

The bar generated at least 43 violations since 1991 for serving alcohol to minors and violent incidents, including three last year for shots fired, according to licensing board records and police. A dozen of the violations resulted in warnings and 12 resulted in suspensions.


The board had moved to suspend the bar’s license three times for incidents of violence — once for up to four days.

Two months before Chery was killed, two women were shot outside the bar, and in that case the board determined the bar did not violate the terms of its liquor license.

The bar never reopened after Chery’s death. An agreement was reached between Red Sox officials, the city, the owners of the building, and the operators of Who’s On First to permanently close the bar.

Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jan_Ransom.