By: Tammy Daniels On: 11:38PM / Tuesday July 12, 2011
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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The result of the meeting wasn't really to give Big Shirl's the OK, but rather to affirm the fact that it is currently legal for anyone who serves food and who also doesn't have a liquor license to allow BYOB. Because there isn't currently any City ordinance governing it, it is legal. The Government Committee will be looking into forming an ordinance that will define what is and isn't OK with BYOB in North Adams. That will probably happen in about 60 days. Until then, what's legal is legal.
Let me see if I understand. The city solicitor could not find anything wrong with the request but councilor Lamarre wants to stop them from going ahead with what is legal ?? What ?? This is just a question but are public servants required to take drug tests ?? Only wondering.
Editor: The Lapiers approached the city; they wanted an OK soon but were willing wait if the council was uncomfortable. Councilor Lamarre expressed that he was uncomfortable. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
So, in the end....they are going ahead yes? Someone pleae advise.
Lamarres concern is justified. Who is responsible if someone drinks too much at a BYOB restaurant and drives away killing someone? Should staff stop a person from leaving or control how much they drink? How does this effect other businesses? Those are fair questions. For now they get a trial period until the council makes changes. Good luck to Big Shirls for trying something new.
There was no official business related to this matter other than to refer it to the General Government Committee for review. Yes, for the most part (with the exception of Lamarre) they all were in support. But, nothing actually happened.
It is legal according to the solicitor and nothing was required by the council to change that. They all were in favor of clarifying the rules related to BYOB in North Adams so that means an ordinance will be coming. But, for now, it's no different today than it was yesterday.
Editor: I don't believe so. Most communities do not have those in their charters.
Though I don't really understand the criticism of Councilor Lamarre. The Lapiers came and asked for an opinion, they wanted input. He gave it. No, the council couldn't stop them but if enough of them said they were uncomfortable with BYOB without having an ordinance in place, the Lapiers indicated they would (unhappily) wait. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Wayne, it is the owners problem but its also the city's problem if someone is killed. With all the sue crazy people out there you don't think someone wouldn't sue the city for not have a law that stops someone from over drinking at a BYOB restaurant. There are thousands of laws in place that you could consider is the owner's problem. Why have health and building inspectors or any alcohol laws? If you get poisoned by bad food or electrocuted washing your hands you will blame the city for not properly inspecting the business even though it's the owner's problem. You particularly would blame Mayor Alcombright.
Spin As you said , there a THOUSANDS of laws on the books . None of them will prevent anyone trying to sue someone. Do you think that a fifteen hunderd dollar city licenses to do something that does not require one will prevent someone from suing ??? It seems that it is all about money and conrtol. How about a M.Y.O.B. Law.
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