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Why a new Quincy steakhouse in old Masonic Temple has some neighbors worried
Why a new Quincy steakhouse in old Masonic Temple has some neighbors worried
Why a new Quincy steakhouse in old Masonic Temple has some neighbors worried

Published on: 05/14/2024


QUINCY − One of the busiest stretches of Hancock Street in the city center sits back-to-back with a leafy neighborhood of single-family homes. The contrast is leading to conflict, as a celebrated Quincy restaurateur moves forwards with his plans to bring a three-floor Italian steakhouse to the old Masonic Temple, which was severely damaged by fire in 2014.

Jimmy Liang, founder of JP Fuji Group, went before the licensing board May 7 seeking an all-alcoholic beverages restaurant license for the 11,340-square-foot Masons Steakhouse at 1170 Hancock St. He said the restaurant will have capacity for 240 diners and will also host functions such as small wedding parties. The board voted unanimously to grant the license.

The old Masonic Temple is owned by FoxRock, and the restaurant will be part of the real estate developer's downtown Center and Stone project, which also includes 267 apartments across two six-story buildings, one of which will host a Citizens Bank on the ground floor.

Multiple homeowners on Russell Park and Whitney Street complained that their Residential A neighborhood already suffers from too many people parking along the curbs and even in front of their driveways, blocking access and egress to and from their homes. Residential A districts are restricted to single-family homes.

Without a parking plan, many say Russell Park residents will suffer from its proximity to the new steakhouse.

"(Customers will) look to park as close as they can to the facility, and that means on Russell Park," said Robert Cerasoli, a former Massachusetts state representative for the district from 1975 to 1991 who lives on Russell Park. "We're going to be descended upon by these people."

City Clerk Nicole Crispo said that Liang is working with Ward 1 Councilor Dave McCarthy and Mayor Tom Koch's office to develop a parking plan.

The plans could involve Liang using municipal parking at the Quincy Center T station across the street where a temporary Citizens Bank trailer now stands, according to Crispo. The historical society could also share available parking space, Crispo said.

Police Chief Mark Kennedy said that in his 26 years as a Quincy officer, he never had a problem with any of Liang's restaurants (Liang currently owns four in Quincy alone). Kennedy noted that the license is contingent on a parking plan, and that the board could require Liang to come back for another hearing if any of the neighbors' fears materialize.

Liang, who spoke to The Patriot Ledger from Las Vegas where he and his Masons team are exploring new culinary ideas, said he aims to make the city proud.

"I want Quincy (residents), when they talk about steak houses and restaurants in general, to be proud of Masons," he said. "That's my goal. We can get that accomplished through our food, our service and our willingness to work with the city, which we've always done."

Some also objected to Liang's plan to keep the restaurant open until 1 a.m. Liang said he hopes to bring some of the nightlife back to Quincy Center that has been lacking since the COVID outbreak in 2020.

"I think 1 a.m. is really late," said Randy Hoes, who lives on Russell Park. "I'm not interested in a lot of carousing around and boozing and what not. I would appreciate 11 p.m. at the latest."

"Where are all these people going to park?" Joann Cerasoli, also of Russell Park, asked. "How late are they going to stay?"

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Robert Cerasoli said he doesn't oppose the restaurant but there needs to be a plan for parking.

"We are not NIMBY people," Cerasoli said. "We believe in progress of the downtown. ... undefined

Kevin Norton, of Whitney Street, said his property abuts the proposed restaurant and complained that it would make an already bad parking situation worse.

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"It used to be nice and quiet, no cars in the street," Norton said. "Now, it's a nightmare."

Norton said incessant noise from construction of the Center and Stone development has been a nuisance. "My taxes go up every year," he said. "My quality of life goes down every year."

As of now, the restaurant has about 30 parking spaces behind the building for staff and customers of the 240-seat restaurant, Liang said.

President of Quincy's chamber of commerce, former state treasurer and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill, vouched for Liang, who has run restaurants in Quincy for 25 years.

"They're not outsiders," Cahill said of Liang's team. "They will be part of the community."

Cahill told neighbors that the 1 a.m. closing does not imply a nightclub atmosphere. "The prices are such that it's not going be a college crowd – young kids getting wildly drunk and having problems," he said.

Liang has said Masons Steak House will have some affordable options.

"I'm going to keep it medium," he said of the prices. "(A steak) could be $40 or as expensive as $200."

Peter Blandino covers Quincy for The Patriot Ledger. Contact him at [email protected].

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