By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — One of downtown’s hottest night spots, which closed several months ago after a number of violent incidents involving patrons, is about to be reborn as a family-family restaurant, according to its new owner.
Mayor James Fiorentini said the Barking Dog Ale House is set to open Dec. 17 in the Vault building at 77 Washington Street. The mayor said he recently toured the inside of the spacious, multi-level building and that the owners are busy renovating and preparing to open. He said they intend to employee more than 50 workers.
The new owner Jeff Nahas, who also owns two restaurants in Amesbury — the Barking Dog Bar and Grill and The Ale House — could not be reached for this story. But in a previous interview, Nahas told The Eagle-Tribune his new eatery is going to be his flagship restaurant.
“I’ve always loved Haverhill and dreamed of opening a restaurant here,” Nahas said the night he received his licenses for the new business.
Nahas said he intends to focus on “family-friendly dining” and not music and dancing, which was the feature attraction at the former Mal’s Lounge nightclub on the upper floor of George’s at The Vault. The former owners, Lisa and Peter Polasek, closed and sold to Nahas following a series of problems with police and city officials related to fights in and outside the club and over-serving patrons. The License Commission revoked the liquor license for Mal’s Lounge in August and the Polasek’s shuttered the restaurant shortly thereafter.
Nahas said liquor shots will no longer be available and music and dancing won’t be part of regular hours, although that kind of entertainment will be offered at functions and occasional special events, he said.
”We’re looking to reproduce what we do at the Ale House,” Nahas said
Nahas said he opened his first restaurant, the Barking Dog Bar & Grill, in his hometown Amesbury in 2003 with the intent to combine traditional food and comfort food with family-friendly service. He said his Haverhill restaurant will seek to combine the best qualities of the Barking Dog and his second Amesbury restaurant, the Ale House, to provide guests with first-rate hospitality and an affordable menu.
Nahas has received permission from the city to use a fourth floor in the building as a function room and to serve food and alcohol in an outdoor area. The building is prominently located in the center of downtown’s restaurant district.