VIDEO: City Council hosts workshop on liquor licenses

Newport City Hall

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Newport City Councilors met on Wednesday night to discuss the City’s existing rules governing liquor licenses in a City Council workshop.

The nearly two-hour workshop was open to the public and a few dozen people (mostly restaurant owners and managers) were in the audience of the Council Chambers at Newport City Hall.

There are 117 retail liquor licenses currently issued in Newport (79 of them being Class B). City Council discussed how those liquor licenses came about, the four licenses that are currently “parked” and not being used right now (Rhumbline, Barking Crab, Hope, Unity 3) in the city, possibly tightening liquor license transfer laws, and what the future of liquor licenses particularly in the North End of Newport would possibly look like.

Although it was a workshop, Mayor Bova encouraged the audience to submit their thoughts, comments, and statements in writing to the the City Solicitor, citing that they may best be consumed by Council in that way.

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A lawyer representing several restaurants in the City recommended that the way that City Council should deal with any applications for liquor license application in the North End of the City is to make people buy them from existing and move them out there. Citing that it would be good for the city to spread the liquor licenses out all across the City.

Several restaurant owners spoke during the workshop and discussed how hard it can be sometimes to get thru the slower months as a restaurant, and what an asset their license has become (and that it would lose tremendous value if they lifted the cap on liquor licenses).

VIDEO | Courtesy of the City of Newport

The idea for this workshop came forward during the recent discussion that was had by Council and the public when two new hotels on the Newport waterfront asked Council to increase the liquor license cap to facilitate their needs. Those hotels have both since gone and purchased liquor store licenses and are in the process of converting them to Class BT licenses.

For background and more information on Alcoholic Beverage Licenses in the City of Newport, visit the Code of Ordinances 5.12.010. – Alcholic Beverage Licenses.