Good piece in the Gloucester Times about the cap/quota system in cities and towns across the state, and recent efforts made to increase the number of liquor licenses available in any given municipality.
The Somerville Journal and wicked local report that the City of Somerville will obtain 10 additional liquor licenses, but control over where those licenses will be granted will remain with the state. The City seems pleased with the new licenses, but would have preferred to exercise full control over them.
Daniel Newcomb, principal of The Atlantic Restaurant Group, based out of Marshfield, a commercial real estate firm that specializes in the sale of restaurants, leasing of restaurant space and liquor licenses throughout the South Shore and the Greater Boston area, has announced the launching of a new division of their services, Atlantic License Brokers.
After 10 years of operations, Newcomb says he was motivated by the needs of his clients to expand his existing restaurant brokerage services to facilitate the process of matching buyers and sellers of all alcoholic beverages and wine and malt licenses. Atlantic License Brokers is the first of its kind in Massachusetts to dedicate time and resources to tracking and maintaining an inventory of liquor licenses for sale.
In an effort to boost business, the Somerville Board of Aldermen is crafting legislation for Beacon Hill that would give the city an unlimited number of beer, wine and liquor licenses to distribute to qualified bars and restaurants, reports the Somerville Journal.
Those bars would still need to make a case before the Licensing Commission, but unlike the current system, there would be an unlimited number of licenses for the city to award.
At a Legislative Matters Committee meeting last week, Alderman at Large Jack Connolly said the board should “exercise a very wide degree of caution.”
The number of liquor licenses available for Braintree businesses has climbed from 56 to 61 because the most recent federal census showed the town increased its population by nearly 2,000 residents, to 35,744.
Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray has also outlined the mayor’s proposal to add six more alcohol licenses for areas of town targeted for revitalization – Weymouth Landing, Braintree Square and South Braintree Square.
Not since 1980 has the town’s allotment of alcohol licenses increased; in 1990 and 2000 the number actually shrank because of a diminishing population. The state’s adjustment is being applied to every applicable city and town, and for Braintree it means an additional three all-alcohol licenses and two wine and beer licenses.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll’s plan to create three new liquor licenses and allow existing seasonal license holders to sell alcohol year-round failed last week to win the support of the City Council subcommittee charged with reviewing it, reports the Salem News.
Driscoll said the proposed changes would encourage new investment in a city already over its state-imposed license limit and provide relief to Salem businesses now prevented from selling alcohol for three months a year. But Councilor-at-large Joan Lovely, chairwoman of the Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs, couldn’t support the three new licenses because they would create a glut in what she said is already a “saturated” market.
Lovely and Councilor Michael Sosnowski voted against the plan. Councilors Joe O’Keefe and Arthur Sargent voted for it. O’Keefe said it would help energize the city’s already vibrant downtown.
After a vote in favor of Driscoll’s proposal resulted in a tie, the committee opted to put the matter before the full council next week without a recommendation. The mayor needs six votes to send what is a home-rule petition to the state Legislature for its approval.
The petition asks state lawmakers to let Salem convert seven seasonal licenses — three all-alcohol licenses and four beer and wine licenses — into annual licenses and establish up to three new all-alcohol annual licenses. Both the converted and new licenses would be subject to fees the city would collect and put into an economic development fund that would support promotions and activities to bring people downtown.
If one of the converted or new licenses were to be no longer in use, for whatever reason, it would be returned to Salem’s Licensing Board, which could then grant it to another business.
The city would solicit bids for the three new licenses.
“We want to be open for business, we want to bring people here,” Driscoll said. “We can’t close our doors and say, ‘No more.'”
Barry Gidseg, the owner of The Big Y Plaza in Greenfield, wants a large liquor store to open in the plaza. Gidseg is hoping to buy a liquor license from one of the existing small package stores in town to make it happen. He is even willing to move an existing liquor store and pay a commission to someone who can make it happen.
He placed an advertisement in a local newspaper asking one of the five package store owners in Greenfield to sell him a license. The state has set a maximum of five full-liquor licenses for Greenfield, based primarily on its population.
In the advertisement, Gidseg says he will pay ‘top dollar’ for a license. He also says he would like the local package store owner to either sell the license outright or move into the Big Y plaza ‘as a joint venture.’
The Stoughton Board of Selectmen has given Pete’s Place owner Peter Bersani another month to sell his liquor license, although some board members were reluctant to give the extension, as reported by the Wicked Local Stoughton website.
Bersani now has until Nov. 9 to sell the license or it will get revoked, with the town taking it back and Bersani receiving no money for it.
The restaurant in Stoughton Center closed in April, just over a year after it first opened, and Bersani has been trying to sell his license ever since. He said he has a buyer who is ready and willing to purchase it – the landlord of the Shaw’s Plaza in Stoughton – but the landlord said he cannot buy a liquor license until he has a lease signed.
The Boston Globe reported (and quoted yours truly) on the City Council’s decision to clear the way for vendors at Logan International Airport to be granted special liquor licenses, potentially freeing up 13 sought-after licenses now being used at the airport to be sold to establishments throughout the city.
The Globe reports that currently 40 vendors at the airport, including restaurants and airline clubs, share 13 regular liquor licenses. If the special license rule goes through, each Logan vendor would have to purchase a new airport license — $2,500 for an all-inclusive license, $1,000 for beer and wine only — and the city licenses would be sold to Boston establishments outside the airport.
The proposal will now to the state Legislature and the governor for approval.
The Boston Globe reports that 13 Boston liquor licenses could become available for purchase on the open market if a proposal for a special airport liquor license goes through.
The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport, is asking the city to grant new restricted airport licenses to the approximately 40 vendors, including restaurants and airline clubs, that serve alcohol at the airport. Currently, these operators share 13 liquor licenses, with several of them sharing licenses in an unusual arrangement.
Under the new proposal, each restaurant, bar, and club at Logan would purchase a special new airport license — $2,500 for an all-alcohol license, $1,000 for beer and wine only. The establishments that currently have one of the 13 liquor licenses would be able to sell them to a Boston establishment outside the airport, pending final approval from the Boston Licensing Board.