EAST GREENWICH — Members of the East Greenwich Town Council, other local officials and the public discussed their thoughts and ideas regarding possibly amending the alcoholic beverage ordinance Monday evening at Swift Community Center.
The proposed changes to Chapter 15 known as ‘Alcoholic Beverages’ consist of adding two new parts – Sections 7 and 8 – entitled ‘Alcoholic Beverage Policy’ and ‘Outdoor Sidewalk Liquor Service,’ which separated the ordinance into two parts in the service of alcohol on Town property during special events and offering and serving alcoholic beverages with meals served at tables located on sidewalks adjacent to their respective restaurants.
A few local officials present Monday evening, including Town Council President Michael Isaacs, offered their support to the changes to the ordinance. Stephen Lombardi, Executive Director for the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, stated the new proposed policy will provide a safe and responsible service of alcoholic beverages throughout the town, especially within the always-busy Main Street district.
Lombardi added that the restaurant owners, such as Andrea Minopoli, the manager of La Masseria on Main Street, are dedicated to “make the policy work” in order to provide the best dining experience possible for all prospective customers.
“Responsible alcoholic service will promote pedestrian activity along Main Street,”
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Lombardi said, “which will bode well for all the businesses in the area along with the restaurants. The Chamber works hard to promote Main Street and the [new] policy will help us improve that and continue to enhance East Greenwich as a dining destination.”
Douglas Truesdell, a high-ranking member of the Main Street Association, stated in his brief testimony to the Council that other neighboring communities have this policy in place and if the controls of alcoholic service are in place and enforced, then the amendments will be a good thing for the town.
Isaacs then stated his ‘yea’ vote, of sorts, for the amended changes on the grounds that restaurant customers who chose to dine in the outside extension of the establishment should receive the same dining service as those who opt to eat indoors.
“I support that,” Isaacs said. “I think we can properly regulate that. It needs to be a unified ordinance that will apply for everyone.”
However, there are some hurdles that officials need to clear in order to possibly put the changes into effect. One issue brought up was the sidewalks and how for restaurant or business owners to go about expanding their establishments outward considering the Americans With Disabilities Act requiring a certain amount of space needed for passage, as well as the sidewalks being alongside a state-owned highway – Main Street is Route 1.
Some ideas that were brought up by Isaacs in making the new proposed ordinance work was to specifically define ‘meal service’ within the town – full meal service, multi-portion service, etc. – and see where alcoholic service falls in line with those. Isaacs also brought up the idea of having designated hours of service, using the example of beginning outdoor service at 5 p.m. and cutting off sales at 10 p.m., or “a reasonable hour,” Isaacs stated.
He also said there should be two clearly-defined license periods, one being from May 1 until July 31 and the other going from August 1 to Oct. 31. Isaacs said that if there are issues that occur with a particular business during the first license period that the second period could be denied if there’s a just cause.
As voted on 4-1 by the Council – Mark Gee being the lone ‘nay’ – there will be a third reading, which the Council hopes to iron out all of the specifics for vote, of the changes to the alcohol ordinance at the next Town Council meeting, which is scheduled for early July.