SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 18, 2013

4 in line for new liquor licenses

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The Happy Clam is even happier today, as are three other establishments in the city.

Mayor Bill Scanlon has named the Happy Clam Seafood Cafe, the Larcom Theatre, the Wicked Art Bar and the Half Baked Cafe & Bakery as the four businesses he has selected to get new liquor licenses.

“Needless to say, I’m thrilled,” Happy Clam owner/chef Steve Cross said yesterday. “It could change the whole planet for us here.”

Mayor Bill Scanlon named the businesses in a home-rule petition that he submitted to the City Council Monday night, saying they would boost the city’s economic development.

The council must approve the petition, which will then go to the state Legislature, which has final say on whether local communities can expand the number of liquor licenses.

The Larcom Theatre would receive an all-alcohol license, while the other three businesses would get beer-and-wine licenses.

Larcom Theatre owner David Bull said a liquor license would boost the downtown Wallis Street theater as it embarks on a new program of live shows and concerts next month.

“Obviously, to be able to offer an alcoholic beverage to adults who want to have that as part of the experience certainly makes the whole package more attractive,” Bull said.

Half Baked Cafe owner Kelly Mackin said a beer-and-wine license would allow her to take advantage of the cafe’s outdoor patio, which seats about 40. Customers will have such options as drinking a mimosa with breakfast and eating a beer cupcake with their beer, she said.

The cafe opened in February on West Street in Beverly Farms.

“I think it will broaden what we bring to Beverly Farms,” Mackin said. “It will give me a chance to compete with other places.”

Scanlon said he was also considering granting an all-alcohol license to the Cabot Cinema Theatre, but he put that on hold because the theater is for sale. A license could be requested once the new owner is determined, he said.

Bull, who is part of the group that also owns the Cabot Cinema, said prospective owners who have shown the most interest intend to keep the theater as a performing arts space “in one form or another.”

“We’re hoping the sale will happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

Scanlon said the businesses would pay the standard annual fees for the licenses, which are $2,400 for an all-alcohol license and $1,440 for a beer-and-wine license.

He said the city is considering establishing a one-time fee of $50,000 for any new all-alcohol restaurant licenses, because many of the current restaurant owners paid for their liquor licenses.

“In the case of the Larcom and the Cabot, we felt they both were going to be cultural and artistic contributors and they might actually increase restaurant business, so we looked at them as not applying the fee to them,” Scanlon said.

Fibber McGee’s Bar and Grill owner Craig DeOrio told councilors that the city should set clear guidelines on how new licenses are awarded and how much they cost.

“It does level the playing field for those of us who paid for licenses, and it raises more revenue for the city,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.