By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Ferry passengers could soon be sipping a cocktail while waiting for their ride to Boston.
Boston Harbor Cruises, the contractor hired to operate the city’s commuter ferry, is in the process of applying for licenses to open a seasonal eatery at the ferry launch on Blaney Street.
The proposed venue would serve alcohol and lighter fare, such as lobster rolls — similar to The Landing, a patio bar that Boston Harbor Cruises operates on Long Wharf in Boston, said Alison Nolan, general manager of the cruise company.
Salem’s Licensing Board voted unanimously last month to approve a seasonal all-alcohol license for the company, which allows a venue to serve alcohol between April 1 and Jan. 15.
If it is granted all the necessary licenses, Boston Harbor Cruises plans to erect a 20-by-30-foot building with a canopy roof and outdoor seating.
Ferry service begins May 23. The company hopes to open the eatery sometime around July 4, said Nolan.
The eatery would provide a meeting point and spot to sit and relax while waiting for the ferry or after arriving from Boston, said Nolan.
“It would provide a bit of an oasis for our Salem ridership,” she said, “... a good, new facility for Salem, where people could sit right on the water’s edge, enjoy the harbor and the water views.”
BHC already serves alcohol and refreshments to riders on the boat. Liquor license requirements would not allow passengers to carry alcoholic drinks between the proposed restaurant and the ferry, said Nolan. Passengers would have to finish their drinks before getting on the ferry, and vice-versa.
Boston Harbor Cruises took over the city’s commuter ferry service last year from Water Transportation Alternatives of Quincy. In March, the City Council approved a five-year contract for Boston Harbor Cruises to operate the city’s 149-passenger catamaran.
This season, the company has expanded the Salem-to-Boston ferry schedule and will offer a 20 percent discount to Salem residents for non-commuter tickets.
The city’s ferry, the Nathaniel Bowditch, is currently at a shipyard in Gloucester getting an engine overhaul and a new coat of paint. She’s expected to be back in Salem in mid-May, said Nolan.
This spring’s overhaul of the ferry’s starboard (right-side) engine is routine preventative maintenance. The ferry’s port engine was done last spring. Two new engines were installed on the ferry as the city purchased the vessel used in 2006.
The ferry operates from the Salem Wharf on Blaney Street. The full 2013 schedule is posted at www.bostonharborcruises.com
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.