Report: Middle East unveils Sonia’s, new venue and restaurant to replace T.T. The Bear’s

The future use of the former T.T. The Bear’s Place space at 10 Brookline St. in Cambridge is starting to take shape.

Welcome to Sonia’s.

According to a report tonight from Cambridge Day, that’s the name of the new proposed music venue and restaurant that will soon replace T.T. The Bear’s, owned and operated by Joseph and Nabil Sater, who own the building and the next-door Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub complex. Demolition has begun on the space, and the Saters are aiming for an opening in early 2016. But because T.T.’s owner Bonney Bouley still owns the space’s liquor license, no alcohol will be served — for the time being.

More from Cambridge Day:

The Sater family bought the property encompassing its Middle East and ZuZu properties and T.T.’s for $7.1 million in December, forced by pressure from the family of the properties’ longtime landlord, and in turn raised the rent at T.T.’s significantly to help pay off the mortgage. The club closed at 10 Brookline St. after more than 40 years booking bands and selling beer, and the Saters said they hoped to keep using the space as a nightclub, maybe even with no gap in performances.

On Tuesday, co-owner Joseph Sater appeared before the License Commission and won permission to transform the space into a club called Sonia’s – named after sister Sonia Sater – adding the same food as at the neighboring Middle East and operating under the same common victualler license, although there will be no connection between the properties customers can pass through.

There will be renovations in the former T.T.’s space to “open the place up,” he said, allowing room for another 350 people to dine and enjoy music, up from the current 300. The pool tables will be removed and the centerpiece bar will be cut in half – but kept.

Cambridge Day speculates that without a liquor license, the possibility exists for Sonia’s to operate, at least initially, as an all-ages venue, and extension of the all-ages matinee shows the Middle East occasionally hosts on weekends in its Upstairs room.

Back in August, a few weeks after T.T.’s closed, the Saters began circulating a citizen petition to increase their operation into 10 Brookline St., but Joseph Sater told Vanyaland the plan would be to “leave it the way it is” and planned to go to Cambridge licensing boards to operate the space as its “own room.”

As far as the no-alcohol situation, Joseph Sater says tonight that Sonia’s will eventually serve beer, wine, and liquor “down the road.”

The T.T.’s liquor license has been placed with a broker for sale, former T.T.’s assistant manager Kevin Patey told the commission, but license holder and former club owner Bonney Bouley is also looking into “other possible options, including partnering up with someone new.” Patey asked for time for Bouley to investigate options, and the three-member commission voted unanimously to hold the license as inactive for six months, with the potential for another six months afterward.

More to come…