A member of the Southwick Board of Selectmen looks to review business liquor licenses

SOUTH WICK — Select board member Jason Perron said this week he wants to look into businesses that “don’t use their liquor licenses properly.”

“If you have a liquor license, you can’t hold hostage,” Perron said at Monday night’s board meeting.

At a recent board meeting, Perron requested a list of businesses with liquor licenses in the city, which he and board members Doug Moglin and Diane Galle reviewed at Monday’s meeting.

According to the information, there are 28 licenses in the city, of which 18 are fully licensed – allowing the sale of beer, wine and liquor. Three are for package stores and the rest are spread between restaurants, bars and clubs.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission uses a population-based formula to determine the number of licenses issued to municipalities. In Southwick the number should be 27. However, due to a clerical error several years ago, one more license was granted by the town. The ABCC decided to make the town special, so Southwick has 28 licenses in circulation.

Perron’s concern was that some fully licensed businesses were not open and would not be open for up to two years.

“Some of these permits are not used by the property,” Perron said.

“There are people,” he said, noting specific people who want to open a business but can’t get a license.

Peron said he is pushing the issue because he wants the city to be “business friendly.”

“If they are [the businesses] They want something that someone else got and they don’t use it. [and] We can take it away, then we can take it away,” Perron said, referring to the Board of Elections official who acts as the city’s liquor commissioners.

According to Chief Administrative Officer Carl Steinhart, the best approach is to “respectfully invite” businesses to develop their plans to use the permit.

“It’s about doing your due diligence with them,” Steinhardt said. Peron agreed.

Steinhart suggested businesses with liquor licenses come in for a brief update on their operations.

Among the 28 licensed businesses in the city, according to the spreadsheet, Franklin House on Congamond Road has an all-alcohol license and hasn’t been open in more than two years.

There are also questions about Hilltop Café on Point Grove Road. It has a full-alcohol license. The phone number listed for the business has been disconnected and there is no sign of a business at the listed address. When contacted, a property owner near the bar said the bar was open occasionally and that an “open” flag was flown in front of it when it was open.

Village Pizza, another in the city, on College Avenue, has two licenses issued to two separate corporations, one serving beer and wine and one full liquor license.

The city will invite those businesses to appear before the Board of Selectmen to discuss their plans to use the permit.

There are two businesses, Prim3 St3eakhous3 on Point Grove Road and Crabby Joe’s on Congamond Road, which have full liquor licences, but are currently closed.

Both have indicated to the city that they will renew their licenses for 2024.

The developer of Crabby Joe’s is looking to sell the restaurant and bar, and the family of the steakhouse’s former owner, Robert DeVeau, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in August, is also considering leasing or selling the business.

Typically, business owners are given a grace period determined by the Board of Elections before taking action to surrender their license.

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