The Brotherhood of Thieves Property Has Sold

The iconic Brotherhood of Thieves property at 23 Broad Street is being purchased by a group of investors led by island summer resident Henry Helgeson. 

The property is under agreement and will close this morning for $7.9 million. Helgeson assembled the group of investors who are purchasing the Brotherhood building, and it includes Cisco Brewers CEO Jay Harman. 

The plans for the property are still in flux, Helgeson said, but the group intends to “preserve the space and history” of the longtime favorite island restaurant and bar. 

“We’ll get it back in shape and make it part of town,” Helgeson said. “This is a group of people who love the Brotherhood. Our concern was that it was going to turn into something else. It’s such an iconic property. When it came on the market, I said it was something we’ve got to figure out.”

Helgeson founded the credit card processing company Merchant Warehouse, which became the payment tech and merchant services giant Cayan. He recently purchased the Polpis property known as Swain’s Neck. 

The Brotherhood building and restaurant has been owned by the Krause family since 1972. The family also owns the trademark for the famous Brotherhood logo, which is a nod to island abolitionists and their bid to integrate Nantucket schools in the 1840s.

The preference, Helgeson said, would be to keep the brand for at least part of the property as the Brotherhood, but the discussion over the trademark was ongoing this week with the sellers. 

Harman’s involvement in the deal led to speculation in recent weeks that it was Cisco Brewers purchasing the Brotherhood. Although that is not the case, there have been discussions about the Cisco brand becoming part of the property, which includes the subterranean bar and restaurant long associated with the Brotherhood, an upstairs bar and dining area, as well as a patio bar and seating area. 

The group intends to find a long-term tenant for the property and ensure that it has a bright future, but given the timing of the deal, it’s extremely unlikely that anything would come together in time to reopen the Brotherhood for the 2021 season. 

Back in February, the restaurant was shuttered after the four partners who had operated The Brotherhood since 2004 – Ted Burnham, EJ Harvey, Edward Sanford and Larry Whelden – were unable to come to terms on a new lease with the Krause family. The Brotherhood sign came down off the door, and the restaurant announced a “fire sale” of all its equipment and other items. 

“Sadly, COVID changed everything,” Sanford said earlier this year. “In order for our group to continue to operate we needed to negotiate a new lease that recognized the significant risks COVID added to an already difficult business model. We were unable to reach an agreement with the other owners of the building and made the very difficult decision to end our management of the restaurant. Without COVID we would have been there for at least 5 more years.”

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