Cleveland Circle bar Mary Ann’s could become a recreational marijuana shop
The Boston College-area dive bar Mary Ann’s could be transformed into a recreational marijuana shop, leaving college officials and some local business owners with concerns while others welcome the plan.
With the potential sale of Mary Ann’s, the bar could soon be closing the book on its checkered history with the City of Boston, filled with citations for underage drinking and bar brawls. Since opening more than 60 years ago in Cleveland Circle, Mary Ann’s has been a popular meeting spot for Boston College students, in particular.
“Mary Ann’s is kind of like this fixture of Cleveland Circle, but at the same time, it’s so much targeted toward a younger college crowd . . . It really is BC’s bar,” said Anthony DiNapoli, the manager of Cityside Bar, across the street.
An agreement between the investment group Greater Boston Bar Co. LLC and a local marijuana company, Happy Valley Ventures MA Inc., could change that. Happy Valley officials have agreed to buy the property, should they receive the permits and zoning approvals to open a marijuana shop there, founder Michael Reardon said.
In the meantime, Greater Boston Bar Co., which bought Mary Ann’s last summer for $1.5 million, plans to reopen the bar in a couple weeks, after having spent nearly two months renovating it, said Julius Sokol, who is part of the investment group.
Sokol said Mary Ann’s will be the “same bar, same faces.”
The bar is not otherwise on the market, apart from the agreement signed with Happy Valley, Sokol said.
The area’s residents and others will have an opportunity to discuss the proposal at a 6 p.m. public meeting Monday at the Brighton Elks Club.
Some have already expressed concerns.
Saeed Ofmani, a manager at Pino’s Pizza in Cleveland Circle, said about 20 percent of its business could be affected if a recreational marijuana shop opens there, based on the number of children who frequent the shop.
Many high school students go to Pino’s for a snack after school, Ofmani said, and he worries parents wouldn’t want to allow their children to go there if a marijuana retailer is nearby.
“My voice is representing the voice of the families, their concern about the children,” he said. “We are very, very concerned.”
Ofmani plans to attend Monday’s meeting.
“A lot of people don’t hear our voice,” he said. “A small business, they don’t hear our voice.”
Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman, said BC is equally concerned and has joined business owners and residents to oppose the plan. “We do not see a marijuana dispensary as being in the best interest of the community,” he said.
On the other hand, DiNapoli, at Cityside Bar, said the feedback from staff and regular customers has all been positive. “I don’t think anybody’s going to be too unhappy,” he said. “There just might be a little change in the area.”
Reardon, whose company has several other marijuana facilities under construction across the state, said he sees Monday’s meeting as an opportunity to explain the company’s plans, answer questions, and listen to residents’ concerns.
Jeff Drago, a partner in a zoning and permitting law firm that represents Happy Valley in its Boston locations, said the Cleveland Circle site would be ideal for a variety of reasons, including its proximity to public transportation and the availability of metered parking. He added that Happy Valley would function well, mixed in with the other commercial businesses there.
Drago also said that in many ways, a marijuana shop would be less of a disturbance to the community than a bar.
Its capacity would be greatly decreased — from 200 at Mary Ann’s to only 47 in the shop, Drago said — and the store would close at 9 p.m., instead of the bar closing in the early morning.
“For us, we’re nothing but positive about what we intend to do here,” he said.