It has been nearly a week since I closed Evenfall and I have been asked many times why I did. Truth is there is no way I could explain it all verbally when I see you at Sauce or around town so I figured I would write it out here.
Evenfall was a passion of mine for 8 years and closing it was a difficult decision, I loved the fact that we didn’t give in to the suburban dining doldrums and catered to the people that loved us, not those who didn’t understand us.
So why close?
It was a combination of a lot of things but the most crucial were the following:
- We signed our lease in 2004, in the midst of an economic upturn, when the economy faltered in 2008 the lease started to become less attractive financially, in the four years that followed the economy is much the same but the lease was getting more and more expensive. I was unable to renegotiate the terms and that was a factor in deciding to pack it up. As time went on the cost to be in that building was eating more and more of the cash flow, and I was unable to change that.
- The Haverhill Licence Commision made it very difficult to continue to invest in Haverhill. In 8 years we had just two liquor violations, both were as a result of police stings where they sent in a minor. We failed two of the many they operated. The first one resulted in a three year probation during which time we could have no violations, and we did not. The second one was four years later and at the Hearing commissioner Gerald A. Sewell told me that if Evenfall ever failed again they would make us close early for a month. I told him that would put us out of business and he said that I should consider another line of work then. — That was enough for me to seriously consider leaving Haverhill alone. Evenfall was not a dis-functional bar like so many in Haverhill have been, and the treatment and threats from Sewel were unfair. His words and the commission’s actions did far more to hurt the 25 employees who work paycheck to paycheck than they hurt me.
- My father passed away in March, and left a void at our Andover restaurant Andolini’s, that I was eager to address in my home town.
- I opened Sauce in Andover to a great response and ethusiasm. With plans to roll out the concept into new locations on my mind it was hard to convince myself to re-invest time and money at Evenfall and in a city that would talk to a business like Gerald A. Sewel does.
I want to take a moment to thank all the loyal regular customers, and the amazing staff members who worked at Evenfall over the years. I will never forget the countless good times we shared together and I wish you all the best.
I would also like to thank the Haverhill Police Department for the way they handled themselves with regards to the stings, they were doing their job and they did it with compassion. Our bartenders never wanted to serve a minor, they made mistakes, and the police showed great understanding with the shaken and crying bartenders when they failed the sting.
Why Be So Blunt?
It may seem uncouth to mention Mr. Sewel’s name, but I honestly think he is a detriment to the city, and as a member of government he is open to criticism. The trouble is that those who would typically complain (like me until now) are under his thumb. Imagine having hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, tens of thousands in monthly overhead, and dozens of employees relying on your business for their livelihood, and having an out of touch bureaucrat tell you: “We are closing you early because you can’t appeal it like if we shut you down for a whole day.” All the while instituting an unwritten rule that if you ever have an alcohol violation again, even half a decade later… you are subject to unknown and nearly unlimited early closings. It’s insane that nobody sees how destructive that is to the culture and economy of the city. It is bad enough that people have been stabbed, shot, and killed in Haverhill… we don’t need out of touch backhanded government too.
So that’s it, Evenfall is closed for good and those are the major reasons why. Hope to see you all soon at one of the other restaurants!I am Spirocks on Twitter.