Danvers Square may be getting another small Italian restaurant if one local businessman is successful in his bid to have the state award another alcohol license to Danvers.
John “Jack” Mammola, who once ran the highly popular Natalie’s on Route 114, wants to set up shop at 13 Elm St. for a 30-seat Italian dining room. The storefront is currently vacant and prominently displays a lease sign.
Mammola says he wants to complement some of the “nice restaurants” already in the downtown by adding another option for diners to the mix.
Mammola appeared before the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night to ask the board to support his request for a beer, wine and cordials license by way of special legislation – a home rule petition. Board members unanimously did so by approving Mammola’s petition for inclusion as a warrant article at Town Meeting in May.
If voters at Town Meeting pass the petition, state lawmakers will then weigh in. The legislature has the authority to grant additional licenses for a community in excess of state limits. State Rep. Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) now chairs the commission tasked with those decisions.
Mammola said he and his family ran Natalie’s for 28 years, enjoying a great amount of success in town.
“We enjoyed Danvers and Danvers certainly enjoyed our food,” he said.
Mammola explained he’s not looking to compete for business, but rather hopes to complement the establishments in the downtown. He noted there was already one Italian eatery, but certainly the customer base could support more. Mammola said he plans to only be open five days a week, perhaps from 4-9:30 p.m.
There are no plans for a bar at the restaurant, which selectmen indicated they were glad to see.
The board was unanimous in its support of Mammola’s petition, calling the process a good method for local businesses to seek alcoholic beverages licenses once the town limit is reached. The official population tally in each city and town is used as a basis for how many licenses may be issued or approved in that community. Once that limit is reached, a business must either find someone willing to sell a license or appeal to the state that a new license be specially created to satisfy a local need.
“I think this process has worked well for and ,” Selectman William Clark said, noting the two establishments were out of four such bids in recent years.
Clark pointed out that existing license holders are often opposed to the creation of new licenses; however, as they argue it only decreases the value of those licenses. He added that while petitioning state lawmakers is a cheaper alternative, it might take at least a year to get a final decision one way or the other.
Selectman Keith Lucy told his colleagues he was once a pot washer at Natalie’s about 30 years ago. He stressed how complicated the home rule petition process is – a series of approvals are needed from a variety of groups.
“This is a less costly method of picking up a license, but a more labor intensive one,” Lucy said.
Mammola acknowledged that and said he is in the process of renovating the space at 13 Elm St. now and may consider opening for business in the longer term even if he is unsuccessful in gaining a beer, wine and cordials license. He admitted it would make it tougher to turn a profit, however.
“That’s a nice location down there…I hope it works; it would be a very nice addition to the square,” said Selectman Michael Powers.