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Council OKs BYOB But Eyes Regulations

Tammy Daniels

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Big Shirl's Kitchen was given the go-ahead to allow its customers to bring in their own beer and wine but the City Council will be looking at ways to regulate the practice.

The council on Tuesday referred a request to create an ordinance related to customers bringing their own beer or wine to dining establishments to the General Government Committee. The issue was brought to the council by Mayor Richard Alcombright on behalf of big Shirl's owners Renee and Mark Lapier.

The Lapiers have recently extended their hours to offer dinner and want to allow BYOB, or "bring your own bottle." The city solicitor said the practice is legal and the License Commission said it does not fall under its purview. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission limits BYOB to eating establishments that do not have alcohol licenses.

Renee and Mark Lapier's plan to let customers bring their own bottles (of beer or wine) during dinner service; their restaurant won the qualified endorsement of the City Council.

The Lapiers, however, said they didn't want to move forward without ensuring the city was supportive.

"I would like to see this go to committee and move along as fast as possible," said the mayor. "They don't want to do it without the blessing of the city in some form. ... They're looking for guidance here."

Alcombright said he'd looked into other municipalities that had put conditions on brown bag or BYOB ordinances.

Councilor David Lamarre, former chairman of the License Commission, raised the question of who would be responsible and why the Lapiers didn't go through the more formal licensing process.

"You're moving way too quickly on this ... there will be a whole lot more to this issue than meets the eye," he said, adding a license should not be hard to get. "Historically, there have been very few problems with issuing a license to a requester."

Mark Lapier said his 40-seat restaurant was too small for the coolers necessary to stock beer and wine and that he didn't want to be a bar.

"I'm asking for convenience for my customers for 12 hours," he said. "The more we do in business is more taxes for our city. ... We have a high-end clientele; nobody's going to throw down a 30-pack."

Renee Lapier said they would be willing to pay a fee for a permit or registration and that the waitresses at Big Shirl's all had TIPS, Training for Intervention Procedures.

President Ronald Boucher said Pittsfield has no ordinance and has had no issues with BYOB.

"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "We should maybe put some language in place to protect ourselves down the road in case other venues want to do it."

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