It happened by “accident,” Eugene Devlin tells redbankgreen, that he walked out of Ashes Cigar Club‘s public auction yesterday the owner of the defunct nightclub’s liquor license.

Devlin, co-owner of The Dublin House (seen at right in 2007), had previousy left the auction because he heard somebody else had placed a successful bid on the license. Then he got a phone call from John Anderson, son of Jack Anderson, who owns the Broad Street building Ashes occupied, that there was a problem with the bid, and suggested Devlin return.

He did, and for $395,000 came away with the liquor license. Now he and business partner Sean Dunne have to figure out what to do with it.

“We’re going to sit on this to see how the economy goes,” Devlin said. “We have no plan.”

He went to yesterday’s auction ready to spend, but figured he wouldn’t get the license. Rumor was that another local business owner was a front runner to outbid the rest, he said.

But after the mixup with the first successful bidder, Devlin and Dunne became the unexpected winners of a certificate that in better, pre-2008 times might have sold for around $500,000.

“I don’t believe it’s a steal the people think it’s a steal. It’s still an expensive license,” he said. “All I know is I went to the receiver and then he gave me the license.”

It had been suspended this summer by the Alcohol Beverage Control division because of a state violation: undisclosed parties had interests in it. The license must first be approved for clearance by Superior Court Judge Thomas Cavanagh, which Devlin thinks that will happen around February.

At this stage, Devlin suspects he and Dunne will hold on to the license for a year or two. And the two native Irishmen, who have owned the pub for six years, are the right keepers, Devlin’s been told.

“A lot of people were hoping we would get the license. They said, we want the right people to get the license, not some fly-by-night guys getting it,” he said. “They are happy we got it.”