Lamenting New Providence's Lack of a Liquor License
Friday, December 6, 2013 • 12:56pm
The citizens voted overwhelmingly to approve the issuances of liquor licenses in the borough of New Providence. It is extremely disappointing that we are, so far, unable to entice even one restaurant to even submit a bid for any of our four licenses. Here is the link to the New Providence Liquor License ordinance. The ordinance is 11 pages in length and some of the requirements are as follows:
“no more than 1 bar stool per 4 seats of dining, but in no event no more than 1 bar stool for every (3) feet of bar counter”
“The bar/lounge area should be delineated by a knee wall, railing or architectural feature to designate the limits of the bar/lounge area.”
“There shall be suitable facilities … for temporary storage of coats, hats, umbrellas, overshoes and other items of clothing outside the dining area.”
“maximum capacity of … 15 bar stools”
“no food or beverages consumed at counters”
“There shall be at least twelve (12) square feet of floor space in the dining area for each seat”
“for the purposes of dining shall [not] contain fewer than 300 square feet of floor space, exclusive of … any other purpose than dining”
“entrances to such lavatories shall be screened from public view”
“’timed’ happy hours with a defined period of time where drinking is encouraged are prohibited”
“In the event that inspection of the records of any licensee discloses that over fifty percent (50%) of the gross receipts is derived from the sale of alcoholic beverages, the licensing body may, in its discretion, after notice and proper hearing revoke the license.”
Just as a comparison to the liquor license ordinance found on the township of Berkeley Heights website, I would like to point out the following. The Berkeley Heights ordinance that was available is three pages long and has limitations on hours of operation as well as compliance with the laws of the state of New Jersey, there were no other restrictions and limitations placed on the type, size, structure or profit margin on the business. I understand that there is now limited real estate available for a restaurant and bar in New Providence.
Upon my observation, there are seven vacant stores in the A &P shopping center, and at least three appear to be contiguous. However, based on my reading of the New Providence ordinance, any restaurant would need a 45-foot bar to accommodate just 15 bar stools. In my opinion, this would require a sizeable location particularly given the ratios of dining to bar seating. I believe that we may need to reconsider the restrictions placed in our liquor license ordinance. I am not familiar with the investment and operations of a restaurant but even as a layperson it is my opinion that the restrictions are onerous and maybe unprofitable.
It would be great for the borough of New Providence to have a restaurant and bar where residents could meet, talk and relax without going to another town.
In addition, the potential revenue to New Providence on the sale of the liquor licenses would provide much needed additional funds for necessary projects.