Dave Balerna, co-owner with his brother Jay, of the Washington Street nightspot was effusive in his praise for the long years of support that their club has received from its patrons.
"Now we can really help people out. We're not just going to have one grand opening, we're going to have many. After 16 years, it can't just be an ordinary celebration."
Balerna was referring to his club's recent approval by the Boston Licensing Board to expand Midway's capacity from 60 to 99 people.
"We first filed for a building permit in November of 1994. We were approved. And then the approval was rescinded, because of- let's just say- shenanigans. It was crushing to our sense of belonging. We had always done everything right and when you want to grow because people like what you're doing and there's increased demand for it, well, it hurts."
"Generally, we like to keep a low profile, in our business that's the best thing to do, but we've been before the board for a couple of smaller things and never had any problems. We didn't mind the requirements of the city because we hold ourselves to a higher standard than they require. The only way things could go wrong now is if we suddenly start doing stupid things, but that's not going to happen. We have a track record to prove it."
Balerna continued, critical of the licensing process.
"I've learned over the years that frequently one hand doesn't know what the other is doing and getting an answer from one person down there doesn't mean that you're going to get the same answer from another. Thankfully, now, all the agencies are on the same page. We're an upstanding business that has been doing things the right way. This ship has sailed."
Balerna pointed out that the hold up was at the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals where he said that the voices of dozens of supporters and neighbors were ignored while the politicized process favored a single dissenter.
As described in a recent Jamaica Plain Gazette article, a co-owner of Doyle's, just down the block, sued the BZA to stop the Midway's plans. That co-owner is no longer affiliated with Doyle's, according to the Gazette.
The Licensing Board's was the final stamp of approval. The Board's attorney, Jean Lorizio, confirmed the approval but declined to comment. She remarked that this was the first time the petition came before the Licensing Board and that the petition was available for review in person.
Midway will extend its bar, its stage and its seating so that Balerna will be able to bring in bigger rock acts, although over the years he has managed to bring in a few high flyers before takeoff.
Balerna exclaimed loudly. "Now we're going to be able to do a lot of great things!"