A Southwick Select Board member is trying to review the business’s use of liquor licenses

SOUTHWICK — Select Board member Jason Perron said this week he wants to take a look at establishments that are “not using their liquor licenses properly.”

“If you have a liquor license, you can’t foreclose on it,” Perron said during Monday night’s council meeting.

Perron, along with board members Doug Moglin and Diane Gale, requested a list of establishments in the city with liquor licenses during the council’s last meeting Monday.

According to the information, there are 28 licenses in the city, 18 of which are full licenses that allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor. Three are for takeaway stores and the rest are spread across restaurants, bars and clubs.

The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission uses a population-based formula that determines the number of licenses issued to a municipality. In Southwick, that number should be 27. But a few years ago, due to a clerical error, an additional license was issued by the city. The ABCC decided to grant the city an exemption, so Southwick has 28 licenses in circulation.

Perro’s concern was that some businesses with full licenses were not open and had not been open for up to two years.

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

Without naming specific individuals, he said, there are “people” who want to open a business but cannot because they cannot get a license.

Perron said he brought the issue forward because he wants the city to be “business friendly.”

“If they [the businesses] needs something that someone else has got and doesn’t use, [and] we could take it away, then we have to,” Perron said, referring to the authority of the Board of Selectmen, which acts as the town’s liquor commissioner.

Chief Administrative Officer Carl Stinehart suggested the best approach was to “intimately invite” businesses and inform the council of their plans to use the licence.

“That would be doing their due diligence,” Stinehart said. Perron agreed.

Stinehart suggested engaging businesses with liquor licenses for brief updates on their operations.

Of the 28 establishments licensed in the city, Franklin House on Congamond Road has a full liquor license and has not been open for more than two years, according to the spreadsheet.

There are also questions about Hilltop Café on Point Grove Road. Has a full liquor license. The phone number listed for the business has been disconnected, and its listed address has no indication that it is a business. When contacted, a property owner near the bar said the bar is open occasionally and when it is, it raises an “open” flag in front of it.

Another business in town, Village Pizza on College Highway, has two licenses issued to two different corporate bodies at the same location, one for beer and wine and the other for a full liquor license.

The town will call on those businesses to come before the Board of Selectmen to discuss plans to use the licenses.

There are two establishments, Prim3 St3eakhous3 on Point Grove Road and Crabby Joe’s on Congamond Road, that have full liquor licenses but are currently closed.

Both have notified the city that they are renewing 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 Daviau, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in August, is also looking to lease or sell the business.

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

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