Raynham Laundromat Faces Uphill Battle For Beer/Wine License

The Boston Globe reports on the quixotic quest of a Raynham laundromat in Massachusetts which seeks to become the first business in the Commonwealth to serve alcohol while customers wash their clothes.

On Wednesday, town officials will attend an appeals hearing before the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to make sure local business owner George Moniz remains unable to serve his customers alcoholic drinks at the Raynham Laundry Center on South Street West. Moniz, who has owned the laundromat for five years, in March unsuccessfully pitched a plan to serve beer and wine during a liquor license hearing held by the selectmen.

In March, Moniz told selectmen his plan to serve beer and wine was part of an effort to make the business more customer-friendly: Patrons could tip back a brew while watching their laundry. Plenty of area restaurants provide food delivery, he argued, so customers could send out for snacks to accompany their drinks.

But selectmen didn’t buy the pitch, denying Moniz’s application even though he is a licensed bartender and had brought along several loyal laundromat customers who enthusiastically voiced their support for the beer and wine proposal.

“I had letters of support from several businesses,” Moniz told the Globe. “They unjustifiably said no.”

Moniz appealed the denial to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission early in the summer. The panel noted that Raynham selectmen had failed to provide a written statement of reasons for denying Moniz’s application, which is required under state law, and sent a directive to local officials to produce that document.

The selectmen last month sent a four-page list of reasons for their denial drawn up by their attorney, Marc Antine, to both Moniz and the state, and the hearing was set for Wednesday.

The board said among its reasons for turning down the application were the inability of Moniz’s staff to adequately supervise and control customers consuming alcohol due to the laundromat’s layout and the lack of an indication of where the alcohol would be stored or whether a dishwasher would be installed to clean glasses and dishware.

The board also said customers sitting at tables near the door could easily step out to the parking lot with a drink. The selectmen also stated that the addition of alcohol service to the laundromat would create a zoning violation, because the operation would then have insufficient parking under the town’s bylaws for businesses serving alcohol.

The requirement for a restaurant or bar is one parking space for every two seats, a change from the laundromat’s requirement, which is one parking space for every 200 square feet of business space.

“The board will not grant an alcoholic beverage pouring license that would create a violation of the zoning bylaws,” the selectmen said in their statement.