The Natick Select Board is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 6:30pm to discuss possible changes to its rules regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages at restaurants and function rooms. The public can take part in person or remotely.
The Board during its Aug. 3 meeting voted in favor of sponsoring 1 or 2 Town Meeting articles that would nix current minimum seating requirements to obtain a liquor license in Natick. The restrictions—not less than 100 seats for the sale of wine and beer and not less than 15 seats for an all-alcohol license—were originally designed to keep Natick from becoming overrun with bars, but have become outdated in light of new restaurant business models.
Natick has reportedly lost out on opportunities to become home to new boutique restaurants or food/drink businesses. More than a third of people surveyed by the town earlier this year claimed to know of a person or business that has decided not to open or expand a business in town due to its alcohol policies (see full survey results embedded below).
The public hearing will also take into consideration these other rule changes:
1. Eliminate the Board’s current policy requiring an establishment with an on-premises alcohol license to not generate in excess of 35% of its annual revenue from alcoholic beverage sales.
2. Establishing a B.Y.O.B. license option for local establishments whose primary business is derived from either preparing and serving food (e.g. restaurant with a Common Victualer’s license) and/or some other, non-food and beverage service (e.g., activity-based entertainment such as guests creating arts and crafts).
3. Requiring “in-person” server responsibility and intervention training (e.g. TIPS) for businesses established in Natick businesses while allowing for “online” or “virtually” certified servers for caterers and like businesses that apply for, or are hired under, a one-day special permit.
4. Allowing the service of draft beer in pitchers not to exceed 64 oz. in size for parties of two or more guests. For parties exceeding three guests, additional pitchers may be served but not in a quantity that exceeds one pitcher per three guests.
5. Considering whether to allow licensed establishments to offer either (a) food prepared on premises and/or (b) prepared/prepackaged food available on premises in addition to prepared food offered from an off-premises vendor (e.g. food truck, local restaurant via delivery service, etc.)
6. To Consider any other amendments, edits or additions to current Alcohol Rules and Regulations which are consistent with the public good and public convenience. All persons interested in this matter may appear and be heard at the time and places mentioned.
Across the Natick Select Board, there’s been strong support for change. A town working group that includes Select Board Chair Paul Joseph as a member, has been prepping possible rules changes for consideration by the Select Board and the town. The town’s possible alcohol policy changes would made made with considerations regarding public safety, not just business interests, in mind.
The Board last discussed the issue at its June 29 meeting, about 18 minutes into the Pegasus recording.
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