PEABODY — The City Council has endorsed Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s effort to get 10 new restaurant liquor licenses in the city, and local legislators say they’re ready to help him do it.
The Legislature must approve a home rule petition to add the new licenses to Peabody’s quota.
Democratic state Rep. Ted Speliotis, who had a hand in drafting the bill allowing such “over quota” licenses, said he will work with the mayor and other legislators to make sure the petition is drafted and filed appropriately. “I’m here to help,” he said.
Republican state Rep. Leah Cole said, “It’s my job to bring whatever Peabody needs.”
The City Council voted Monday night to endorse the effort, which is designed to add “site specific” licenses at the Northshore Mall and in the downtown. The purpose would be to keep the mall competitive with places like MarketStreet Lynnfield and to revitalize downtown Peabody with mom and pop and ethnic restaurants meant to draw people to the area.
“A lot of mom and pop restaurants have been priced out,” Bettencourt told the council’s Industrial and Community Development subcommittee. He asked for five downtown licenses and five at the mall. “To be a successful downtown restaurant you need a liquor license.”
Councilor Dave Gravel noted that downtown Maki Sushi “was practically out of business before getting a liquor license. ... Now they’re successful.”
The added licenses, Bettencourt said, would be available only to restaurants. As “site specific” licenses they can’t be sold for huge amounts to a chain, as happened when Martino’s on Route 1 sold its license to Trader Joe’s on Route 114 for $205,000. He said he knew of three people who have been deterred from opening downtown restaurants for lack of a liquor license.
Mall manager Mark Whiting explained that his facility’s recent expansion had opened the door for more restaurants.