Council Subcommittee Debates BYOB
Mark and Renee Lapier, right, speak with the General Government Committee of Lisa Blackmer, Chairman Keith Bona and Michael Boland about developing a BYOB ordinance.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee will look for expertise from public safety and the License Commission as it attempts to craft a so-called "bring your own bottle" ordinance.
BYOB restaurants are becoming popular in some areas; Big Shirl's Kitchen is the first in the city to seek guidance on how to operate as one. The committee met Wednesday to begin dicussions on the issue.
State law does not regulate BYOB other than stating venues with alcohol licenses may not allow BYOB. Because it is not covered by state law, municipalities can create ordinances to regulate it.
City Councilor David Lamarre, a former member of the License Commission, questioned the need for a BYOB ordinances when the city has no limit on alcohol licenses. "It just seems to me unnecessary."
Mark and Renee Lapier, owners of Big Shirl's, said they were not oppposed to licensing and regulation but were thinking of the convenience of their patrons and not the overhead that would come with a liquor license.
The small, 40-seat restaurant would have to expand for storage space for alcohol and add anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 to its insurance bill, said Mark Lapier. To cover that cost, "we'd have to push the booze I don't want do that."
Lamarre said the city could lose in meals tax if people began going to Big Shirl's with their own bottles. Renee Lapier said more sales of meals might make up for that.
Committee member Lisa Blackmer said she didn't think BYOB is the tipping point for diners.
"I think people decide to go to a restaurant because of the food," she said.
Committee member Michael Boland worried that too much attention was being paid to the needs of a single restaurant.
"We should be doing what is good for the community, not what's good for Big Shirl's," he said.
Chairman Keith Bona agreed but said the Lapiers' concerns should be taken into consideration. In questioning both the couple and Lamarre, it was decided the ordinance should look at licensing and fees; waitstaff TIPS (alcohol serving) training; state open bottle laws, hours of operation and compliance.
The committee will invite E. John Morocco, retired public safety commissioner, and License Commission Chairman Jeff Polucci to its next meeting in August to discuss the issue in more depth.
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BYOB, Appointments on North Adams Agenda
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A local establishment is asking to go BYOB — as in bring your own [beer or wine] beverage.
The mayor's office is forwarding the request by Big Shirl's Kitchen to the City Council on Tuesday night, July 12, for review. Big Shirl's owners Renee and Mark Lapier are hoping the city will adopt a policy related to BYOB within the city's borders.
A number of other municipalities, such as Needham, Woburn and Westborough, allow the practice. According to an opinion from the city solicitor, establishments with liquor licenses cannot allow BYOB but non-licensed can, although the municipality has some control. They may not, however, "uncork" or otherwise handle the alcohol. BYOB is limited to beer and/or wine.
Mayor Richard Alcombright is asking the council to refer the matter back to his office and to the appropriate council committee.
City Councilor Marie Harpin will be sworn in as the governor's appointment to the Housing Authority.
Also on the agenda is a host of appointments and permission for a sewer connection. The mayor will present the final tallies on some accounts that will close out the 2011 fiscal year.
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