I Pazzi, 9 Elm American Bistro, and Hong Kong Cafe were the three businesses awarded all-alcohol licenses at last night's Board of Selectmen Meeting. Prior to the public hearing, the Board had received six license applications, but only had three licenses to grant.
I Pazzi, 9 Elm American Bistro, Hong Kong Cafe, SunnySide Bowladrome, Sawasdee Danvers, and Oye's each presented to the board and audience members information and plans for their business if it was to receive a license.
Of the three who were awarded, Hong Kong Cafe has been established in Danvers the longest, since September of 2002. 9 Elm American Bistro opened in 2008, and I Pazzi most recently in 2009. All three are located in Danvers Square.
Prior to the meeting, four of the six applicants (I Pazzi, 9 Elm, Hong Kong Cafe, and Sawasdee Danvers) were operating under beer, wine, and cordials licenses, and were looking to expand to all-alcohol.
Sunnyside Bowladrome, which does not currently carry any alcohol, beer, or wine, applied for an all-alcohol license to cater to the needs of their corporate party clientele, according to owner Nick Cameles. "As leagues dwindle, it's a way of creating revenue," he said.
Selectman Bill Clark questioned the non-restaurant atmosphere, and asked if there were plans to expand on dining. Cameles noted that the business currently offers pizza and other finger foods, and would consider expansion.
Oye's, a new Japenese restaurant to be located in the same building as Grassfields applied for a license that would accompany a Sushi-bar, live-entertainment atmosphere. The business currently has one other location in Reading, and their all-alcohol license had been suspended this past June. "We learned from that experience," said representative, Chung H. Lee. "We vow that that will never, never, happen again."
The restaurant, which is under lease negotations, said they "believe in Danvers," but will possibly look into other locations if they were not to receive a license.
During the public hearing, C.R. Lyons, chairman of the Downtown Improvement Committee spoke to the Board, stating, "to have a vibrant successful downtown we need to have a variety of businesses. Putting these licenses downtown would be a benefit to the community."
Several community members spoke on behalf of their experiences at I Pazzi, 9 Elm, and Sawasdee. Danvers resident Jeff Kane said, "I Pazzi is a five-star restaurant. We're extremely lucky to have it here in our own backyard...it's a fantastic location. A liquor license is well deserved and should be granted."
Selectman Bill Clark said that Danvers has gone from being a sleepy place of nail salons and banks, to being a place of great dining experiences.
"We have some exceptional restaurants in Danvers Square," Clark said, noting that the clean record of the license recipients was a testiment to their dedication. Clark said downtown Essex, Newburyport, and Salem all can be looked at as local models for nightly activity that Danvers can potentially resemble.
The Board agreed that this was a very difficult decision, and each applicant was deserving. The Board unanimously voted in approval of both I Pazzi and 9 Elm American Bistro.
For the final license awarded, Chairman Dan Bennett expressed concern that the Board was awarding three licenses in one particular location. Selectman Keith Lucy responded, "We have selected two high-end dining experiences. This is a different venue, a different clientele and I think we need this dining option as well."
Selectmen Clark said that Hong Kong Cafe has paid its dues, having applied for licenses in the past, and "time will allow us to make this decision for other businesses."
Because the three businesses that received all-alcohol licenses were in possession of beer, wine, and cordials licenses, they will be returned to the Town and made available for other businesses.