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Marblehead Selectmen to Talk Sweeney's Retreat Liquor License

A public hearing regarding the all-alcohol liquor license belonging to Sweeney's Retreat is scheduled to take place at Wednesday night's meeting at Abbot Hall.

The Board of Selectmen will sit down with a representative of Sweeney's Retreat Wednesday night to discuss the future of the recently-closed business' all-alcohol liquor license.

The owner of Sweeney's Retreat reportedly filed for bankruptcy and closed the business late last year and now members will meet with either the owner himself or his lawyer to discuss the future of the license.

The availability of all-alcohol liquor licenses in Marblehead became a hot topic last fall, when the town's new Mexican restaurant Casa Corona applied for and was granted Marblehead's first ever carry-in alcoholic beverage license.

It is not uncommon for board members to schedule a meeting with local liquor license holders after they close their doors to customers. The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. in the Selectmen's Meeting Room of Abbot Hall.

Also appearing before the board Wednesday night will be a representative of Comella's Ristorante, which is expected to apply for a common vicutaller's license. The Italian eatery is slated to open on Atlantic Avenue in March.

If it were suddenly up to you - what would you do with the Sweeney's liquor license? How about the Sweeney's space?

Let us know in the comments section below.

MHH101 February 12, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Why have valuable, limited public licenses been treated as 'an asset and/or owned by the current licensee' and then 'sold' when they close a business and not made available to an existing business on the waiting list?
John Buba February 12, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Palmer's Restaurant needs a License. Coincidence that Sweenys closes just as Palmers needs a license? What about the Mexican Restaurant that only has a BYOB license? They were here first. One onf Jethro Gibbs' Rules from NCIS: Don't believe in coincidences.
Peter Lake, LAKE Real Estate February 12, 2013 at 03:38 PM
I don't understand the whole process of limiting liquor licenses in town. What's the public good being served by having such an onerous process? People can only drink in one restaurant at a time. Would Marblehead turn into a town of drunks if there were ten more licenses? Twenty? If you think so, please explain why. In California I can buy beer in a gas station (can't drink it in the car, though) and every restaurant with a dinner price of more than $10 has a liquor license. This whole business of limiting licenses seems like a page out of the 19th century. I'd love for someone to explain what the purpose is -- keeping in mind that this is 2013, not 1890.
John Daivis-Allan February 12, 2013 at 05:04 PM
A liquor licenses belongs to the Town period once a restauarnt closes its doors the license should return to the town. The only exception is if the ownership changes hands but the new owner is still subject to a review from the town. I would not be surprised if Goerge Shubie ownes this license since he owns the building? John Davis-Allan
Reasoning February 12, 2013 at 06:16 PM
John - I doubt the owners of Sweeney's Retreat claiming bankruptcy had anything to do with them giving up their liquor license to Palmers. I agree with some of the things you say but your conspiracy theory may be a little off track with this one. Might be a little over the top.
John Buba February 12, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Reasoning, Where was Palmers going to get a license? Surely they were not planning on opening with a BYOB. Might not be a conspiracy, but it does lead to the question regarding who will get the license and how will it be decided?
mary p. ayer February 12, 2013 at 08:47 PM
I agree with you Peter Lake!! What does this town think?----- they own us? We are the people who pay taxes and WE should make the laws by voting. I am surprised we don't still have the Blue Laws too!! What difference does it make how many liquor licenses we have---?? Do we think we will turn into a town of drunks?? The Rip Tide has a lincense and we all live here safely even so!!!
Reasoning February 12, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Last I heard the license was up for auction through the bankruptcy courts. Lets wait until after the Selectmen have their discussion on this license and all your questions might be answered. We all know you have it out for the Seletmen who did not reappoint you to the Finance Committee but a conspiracy? Really?
John Buba February 12, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Most of the selectmen who had issue with my not going along with a big raise package are no longer on the Board. Fighting senseless overrides that result from neglecting routine maintenance is now my avocation. (Remember the 10 that all failed?) You need a better line of personal attack. I do expect the Selectemn to be accountable. So you tell me: First there is lots of secrecy about what restaurant is going in at the Warwick. Then the big announcement, then Sweenys goes bankrupt and viola a license is now available. Now how did Palmers know that? It is unlikely that Palmers was going in without a license and now it looks like that problem might be solved. We will see what the selectmen have to say. Could be just a conicidence.
Sean Casey February 12, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Under Part I (Administration of the Government) Title XX (Public Safety and Good Order) Chapter 138 (Alcoholic Liquors) Section 17 of the General Laws of Massachusetts, the maximum number of liquor licenses in any municipality (except Boston) is based on the population of the community. The specifics are somewhat quirky and convoluted (you can read them for yourselves at: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXX/Chapter138/Section17 ) but the bottom line is the maximum number of possible licenses is a function of the town population. Local authorities have the option of granting less than the total allowable number, but not more. Local authorities also have discretion in who gets the licenses within certain state-set parameters (for example the state says you have to be over 21). So there are two issues at play here: why is there a limited number of licenses is a matter of state law. Who get the licenses is a matter (mostly) of the discretion of “local authorities,” which in Marblehead is the Selectmen.
Susan Bodner February 13, 2013 at 01:20 PM
I heard that the VFW has sold their liquor license to Palmers landlord since they are re. Establishing themselves for a private club license. Sweeney's will probably be maintained by building owner, but should be advertised to all if it is being transferred
MHH101 February 13, 2013 at 01:53 PM
As Sean points out, the number of the town's liquor licenses available is based it's population. What I do not understand is why licenses are being used by establishments that is not open to the general public (yacht clubs, country clubs etc.)? Recently, Patch published a list of who has Marblehead licenses (see below) Package Stores: Beach Bluff Liquors Haley's Wine and Spirits Shubie's Wine and Spirits Village Liquors Grocery Stores: Crosby's Market Restraunts: The Barnacle Caffe Italia Fen Yang House 5 Corners Kitchen The Hurricane Hungry Betty's The Jack-Tar American Tavern Imperial Mandarin Maddie's Sail Loft The Landing The Rip Tide Three Cod Tavern Yannalfo's Restruants (wine and malt): Soall Bistro Le Bistro Cafe and Grill Joey D's Thai Market Wine and malt with cordials innholder's license: The Harbor Light Inn All-alcoholic club licenses Boston Yacht Club Corinthian Yacht Club Tedesco Country Club The Gerry 5 The Headers' Club Champlain Lyman Rollins Post 2005 VFW
Reasoning February 13, 2013 at 03:10 PM
The VFW can not sell their license. It would need to be transferred by the Select Board
Betty Kennedy February 15, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Shubies owned the parking lot there and sort of put Phil in a precarious position - no parking, no customer and they wanted a 10 year lease... Come on. I like Phil he is a really good guy and has done a lot for the Town. The Shubies have split, as far as I have heard, and she wants to start a cooking school in the building. And that's ok, I guess... And 'that's what it's all about'... School song, 'put your left foot and shake it all about."
Susan Bodner February 15, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Palmer's will be getting a license, but it won't be Sweeney's.

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