Former mill in Fall River could turn into nightclub

Michael Holtzman

The Westport businessman planning to renovate and build an upscale night club in the former Anderson-Little mill building on Bedford Street has obtained Licensing Board approval to transfer his Abbey Grill liquor license.

Norbert Morais, the former owner of Fashion Sportswear Corp., plans to invest about $100,000 to convert 7,500 square feet on the ground floor of the circa 1870 Pepperell Mills.

The building is next to a Wendy’s and surrounded by parking off Robeson, Pine and Seabury streets.

According to submitted drawings and information from Morais’ lawyer, Ronald Lowenstein, 502 Bedford St. would be converted into an upscale club and sports pub.

One night club would feature live music and a stage, while another — divided by a soundproof glass window — would utilize a DJ. Patrons in one club would be able to see inside the other nightclub without hearing it, Lowenstein said. The style is a current trend in club fashions, he said.

Application information Morais submitted showed seating for 164, occupancy of 310 and parking for 250 vehicles.

The entrance to the sports bar, which would feature a tavern-type restaurant, would be on Bedford Street. The nightclub's entrance would be located on the west side of the mill, Lowenstein said.

The six-story building includes many businesses and organizations on the upper floors, including the Visiting Nurse Association and Griffin Manufacturing. It’s air conditioned and contains sprinklers, Lowenstein said.

The liquor license, which Morais bought this summer for $13,000 at a bankruptcy auction for the Abbey Grill, would allow the serving of alcohol from 4 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m., and Sundays from noon to 11 p.m. The club could employ 30 to 35 people, Lowenstein said.

“It’s something he told me he always wanted to do,” Lowenstein said of Morais. He said Morais would be a hands-on owner, and is the sole stockholder.

The applications says he’d lease the premises for $2,500 a month from Pepperell Mills Limited Partnership, through 2014 with an option for five more years.

The six-story granite mill is located on 4.1 acres, property the city valued this year at $2.4 million. The building is valued at almost $1.6 million.

“This is a first step,” said Lowenstein, stating that they must first complete the liquor license acquisition through the Abbey Grill bankruptcy and obtain state permission from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

While Morais could not be reached for comment, his daughter Blair offered an her take on their new venture.

“It will be something new and exciting and be a classy establishment for people to enjoy,” said the younger Morais.

She said the clubs will appeal to a diverse variety of people, including couples and children. For instance, one club will play music from the '70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and another will play Top 40, pop and hip hop. The sports bar will feature snacks and appetizers and TVs appealing to different ages.

“We’re looking at springtime,” she said of a possible opening after renovations are complete.

E-mail Herald News writer Michael Holtzman