An Open Letter to the Borough Council,
The proposed change to the bidding on the liquor license to an open process is not going to make the license more marketable. As I wrote in my Letter to the Editor on a prior occasion, it is the stringent outdated requirements of the liquor license that make any bid prohibitive.
As I pointed out previously, the New Providence liquor license (unless changes have been made, which I am unaware of from its original version), would require a 75-foot bar that could only seat 15 people at a maximum bar occupancy, storage for “overshoes,” the restroom doors may not be visible, no happy hour, no full dinners at the bar, 10 square feet for each dining chair and, the most daunting of all for a business person, no more than 50 percent of gross profits may be attributable to alcohol.
The profit restriction can be reviewed by the Borough and the license can be terminated if a violation is found. I cannot think of one available space that could accommodate a bar of that size to accommodate just 15 people. What are overshoes anyway? Who cares if the restroom doors are visible? It has become very popular to eat dinner at a bar while watching sporting events and socializing as well as profitable to the business.
Also, our liquor license requires 3 feet between each bar chair. I ask, how does one carry on a conversation like that? As a business plan for a new restaurant that would have to invest in constructing a restaurant and kitchen, the profits generated by the sale of alcohol would be a principal incentive. Particularly, in recovering the cost of the liquor license, staring at $400,000.
It is not the lack of parking spaces that has been offered as a reason for the absence of interest in a liquor license. Has anyone tried parking in Summit, Millburn or Westfield for dinner? It can take patience to park your car in all of those towns but restaurants are thriving. We will not sell these licenses because the restrictions are ridiculous. The Citizens Voted FOR a liquor license but the license has been drafted in such a way as to thwart any possibility of a local restaurant in town.
If the license was modeled on Berkeley Heights (which requires that the laws of the State of New Jersey be followed without any of these restrictions), the town of New Providence might be able to sell the licenses. In addition to the benefit of income to the town from the sale of the licenses, the desires of the people who live and vote in this town would be addressed.