Mayor Bill Scanlon plans to ask the state for nine new liquor licenses in a move he said would boost the city’s economic development.
Scanlon has called for a special meeting of the City Council on Aug. 5. Councilors must vote to give him permission to apply for the licenses through a home-rule petition with the state Legislature.
Scanlon said the city’s restaurant business has more than doubled over the last five years, to more than $80 million per year. The city now brings in about $600,000 per year in meals taxes.
“I’ve talked to all the councilors individually and all the members of the Licensing Board individually, and they all agree the additional licenses would make sense from an economic development viewpoint,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon said the city is planning to seek three all-alcohol restaurant liquor licenses, five beer-and-wine restaurant liquor licenses and one beer-and-wine package store license.
Scanlon said one of the licenses would be for Larcom Theatre on Wallis Street, which rents out space for functions. He would not say who the other licenses are intended for.
Cities and towns in Massachusetts are allowed to issue a certain number of liquor licenses based on their population. But they can also petition the state Legislature for additional “site specific” licenses for certain locations.
Beverly received two additional licenses in recent years, for American BBQ at the Cummings Center and for the Black Cow restaurant that has yet to open on the waterfront. The city currently has 36 all-alcohol restaurant licenses and six beer-and-wine restaurant licenses.
Scanlon acknowledged that some current restaurant owners oppose giving out more liquor licenses, citing the increased competition they will create.
“People who have all-alcohol licenses generally don’t like to see any more,” he said. “But, sometimes, it turns out that when there is a cluster of restaurants in an area, it’s good for all of them. When you can’t get into one of them, you can get into another.”