At their meeting at Abbot Hall Wednesday night, the Board of Selectmen opted to postpone their planned vote on the most recent draft of carry-in alcohol license regulations after making several key changes.
Prior to the vote, board members sat down with Assistant Town Counsel Lisa Mead to discuss the regulations, which were pushed to the forefront last month when Marblehead's new Mexican restaurant, Casa Corona, filed a request for permission to allow patrons to bringing along their own alcohol beverages.
Key Changes Discussed Wednesday
- Approved alcoholic beverages will be limited to beer and wine only
- If a local business has been awarded a carry-in license, and a beer or wine license suddenly becomes available in town, that business doesn't necessarily have to apply
- The annual cost of the carry-in liquor license will be $400
Why only beer and wine?
At a meeting earlier this month, board members unanimously agreed that permitting patrons to bring a limited amount of hard alcohol along with them would be fair to business owners. The issue there, Mead said, was that the hard alcohol containers couldn't legally be re-sealed and taken from the bar if they were unfinished. She also pointed out that she couldn't find any other carry-in licenses in Massachusetts that allowed hard alcohol.
Why not make them apply when a full liquor license becomes available?
In Marblehead, there are 20 full liquor licenses and 5 beer and wine licenses and they're all accounted for. The number of licenses available is based on population size. (The full liquor licenses cost $1,500 per year; beer and wine costs $750 annually.) Though no final decision was made regarding this issue, all of the board members agreed that forcing business owners to apply if licenses become available would be unfair.
Why increase the price from $50 to $400?
At the initial meeting, the idea behind offering the carry-in licenses for $50 was to ease the burden on the business owner because board members recognized that they wouldn't be profiting from the alcohol.
At the meeting Wednesday, however, Mead pointed out that the cost of a one-day liquor license was also $50 - and that the cost of a year-round permit "has to cover what it costs the town to manage the license."
"The cost for public safety, the cost to review the facility, the bigger cost on a community - if you're worried about making it $50 because it's a quick license, it's bigger than that," Mead said, adding, "You would have a lot of leeway here to validate a charge for this."
The $400 figure was agreed upon after it was established that is what the town of Winthrop charges for their carry-in licenses.
What does this mean for Casa Corona?
If the final draft of the regulations is approved at the board's next meeting, Casa Corona owners Felix and Jose Bracamontes will be called in to discuss their application; and, if all goes according to plan, patrons could be enjoying their own beverages at the Smith Street restaurant by the end of November.
Other Proposed Regulations:
- Alcohol can be sold during a restaurant's regular business hours
- A BYOB license can be requested as soon as a Common Victualler's license has been awarded
- The Board of Selectmen can take away a license if they determine it is being abused
- The Marblehead Police Department must sign-off on all applications
- The amount of alcohol each patron can bring with them will be regulated
- It is the responsibility of the restaurant to be sure patrons don't over-serve themselves
- All alcoholic beverage containers brought into the restaurant must be brought out by one of the patrons
- If a drink isn't finished, it must be taken away in a sealed clear plastic bag
- Wait staff may not assist with alcoholic beverages unless they are over 18 and TIPS certified
The new Mexican restaurant opened last month in the space next to Evan's New York Style Deli, which was formerly occupied by Trattoria Sablone.