IPSWICH — It was Mamma Louisa Cucina and Bar vs. Bunz Burger.
Both restaurants were in the running last night to receive the town’s only available beer and wine license. After hearing from both business owners during a public hearing, selectmen voted to grant it to Mamma Louisa on Central Street. A number of factors were taken into consideration, including its downtown location and number of seats.
Several selectmen said it was a difficult decision because Frank Pellino, owner of Mamma Louisa, has been looking for a year-round license for more than a year, and Mark Macklin, the former owner of Stone Soup, is in the process of opening a new burger joint at 20 Mitchell Road. The board must consider the applications “with a view only to serve the public need,” according to Massachusetts law.
Selectmen Bill Craft, Nishan Mootafian and Pat McNally voted in favor of Mamma Louisa, with Selectman Charlie Surpitski voting for Bunz Burger. Selectman Shirley Berry abstained from voting.
“This is a very difficult situation,” Berry said. “I think it is unfair we don’t have enough, because we want to support the restaurant businesses.”
The board recommended that Macklin apply for a seasonal license or work with the town to pursue a petition from the state moving forward. Earlier in the evening, the board approved a common victualler license for Bunz Burger, which paves the way for it to open.
Mamma Louisa, which opened last May, was previously selling liquor under a seasonal license, which allows businesses to sell between April 1 and Jan. 15. He said last Saturday around 40 customers left after finding out the restaurant currently can’t serve alcohol.
“A year-round license is important so we can keep customers and be competitive,” Pellino said of his 65-seat full-service Italian restaurant. “I would prefer a full liquor license year round, so I will keep my name in for that.”