Mark and Renee Lapier, right, speak with the General Government Committee of Lisa Blackmer, Chairman Keith Bona and Michael Boland about developing a BYOB ordinance.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee will look for expertise from public safety and the License Commission as it attempts to craft a so-called "bring your own bottle" ordinance.
BYOB restaurants are becoming popular in some areas; Big Shirl's Kitchen is the first in the city to seek guidance on how to operate as one. The committee met Wednesday to begin dicussions on the issue.
State law does not regulate BYOB other than stating venues with alcohol licenses may not allow BYOB. Because it is not covered by state law, municipalities can create ordinances to regulate it.
City Councilor David Lamarre, a former member of the License Commission, questioned the need for a BYOB ordinances when the city has no limit on alcohol licenses. "It just seems to me unnecessary."
Mark and Renee Lapier, owners of Big Shirl's, said they were not oppposed to licensing and regulation but were thinking of the convenience of their patrons and not the overhead that would come with a liquor license.
The small, 40-seat restaurant would have to expand for storage space for alcohol and add anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 to its insurance bill, said Mark Lapier. To cover that cost, "we'd have to push the booze I don't want do that."
Lamarre said the city could lose in meals tax if people began going to Big Shirl's with their own bottles. Renee Lapier said more sales of meals might make up for that.
Committee member Lisa Blackmer said she didn't think BYOB is the tipping point for diners.
"I think people decide to go to a restaurant because of the food," she said.
Committee member Michael Boland worried that too much attention was being paid to the needs of a single restaurant.
"We should be doing what is good for the community, not what's good for Big Shirl's," he said.
Chairman Keith Bona agreed but said the Lapiers' concerns should be taken into consideration. In questioning both the couple and Lamarre, it was decided the ordinance should look at licensing and fees; waitstaff TIPS (alcohol serving) training; state open bottle laws, hours of operation and compliance.
The committee will invite E. John Morocco, retired public safety commissioner, and License Commission Chairman Jeff Polucci to its next meeting in August to discuss the issue in more depth.
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At least someone said it out loud, this isn't all about safety. It's more about how we can collect "our's". What can we charge people by allowing them to offer BYOB. Business friendly is just a campaign slogan I guess.
It's obviously about public safety. If there is not some type of onus put on the establishment owner, what's to keep a bunch of kids from finding a friendly place to drink?
Whether it is done the license or ordinance, there has to be some accountability by the owners if there are problems. If a bar screws up, they lose their license. If a BYOB screws up and hosts a teenage kegger, purchased by the "patrons" (wink wink), what recourse does the public have?
There is a reason liquor licenses cost so much. It's because of the money that places make.
--Committee member Michael Boland worried that too much attention was being paid to the needs of a single restaurant.-- sounds like he is saying that the city should not be wasting their time on this matter. Am i wrong? If not big shirls, they would have have to deal with this matter at some point in the future with some restaurant. Sorry this sub committe member is being inconvenienced. The Lapier's have a great little business and a re being innovative, there is nothing wrong with that-unless your in N.Adams. Where they wont let you paint a yellow strip on your grey building, but will let you paint your entire pizza building a gaudy red, green and white. The outcome of these decisions made seem to be made loosely on what is best for the community and based more on who you are.
Editor: Councilor Boland's point was that the committee should crafting an ordinance based on how it will affect the city, not on the needs of one restaurant, which he states quite clearly. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (1)
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