NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – As the Borough Council formally approved resolutions to grant liquor licenses to two applicants, Bistro 73 and Jimmy Vardas, several residents questioned the council’s decision to omit the third applicant – the Murray Hill Inn - at the Monday, Jan. 11 meeting.
The council had a lengthy discussion regarding liquor license applications at the Dec. 21 meeting. The borough has been without a liquor license for 100 years. The council took a cautious stand and decided to approve two out of three submitted applications.
“It doesn’t seem right,” Peggy Brodeur said. She explained that the Murray Hill Inn has been a generous establishment in the borough for over 30 years. Many New Providence organizations, among them the Municipal Alliance and the Athletic Foundation, have called the Murray Hill Inn home and have had their meetings there without a charge. Brodeur further detailed the generosity of the owners as the inn provided shelter and food for those in need during the superstorm Sandy.
“What would New Providence be without the Murray Hill Inn?” Brodeur asked and added that the owners “have paid their dues to the borough”.
Another resident, Maria Ludwig, agreed with Brodeur saying that the council’s decision “does not make any sense”. There has been no negative press regarding the Murray Hill Inn, she said. Instead, the inn has received “a lot of accolades” within the community. It is one of the most “benevolent businesses” in the borough. “You missed the mark on this one.”
Ludwig also stated that a lot of people would rather stay in a hotel with a liquor license than at one without. Ralph Parmigiani, who works at a recruiting company, agreed. He asked the council what will happen if the owners of those establishments, who were granted the license, decide to leave the town. Borough Attorney Paul Rizzo explained that the license is theirs and they can sell it. However, the transaction has to be approved by the Borough Council. The liquor license has to be renewed each year.
Council President Michael Gennaro, who chaired the meeting due to the absence of Mayor Al Morgan, said that there will be other opportunities for the Murray Hill Inn to apply for the liquor license, since the borough has two more licenses to offer. Councilman Robert Robinson said that the council hears the residents’ views but he is comfortable with the council’s December vote.
As residents pressed for an explanation as to why the license had not been granted, Gennaro explained that the decision was made based on the quality of the application, not the quality of the people applying.
Councilman Gary Kapner suggested that the Murray Hill Inn come back with a better application.