Council Looking at Allowing BYOB at Watertown Restaurants

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While Watertown officials look at adding more liquor licenses, they will also consider whether restaurants can have bring your own alcohol licenses.

Councilor Aaron Dushku, who sits on one of the three subcommittees looking at liquor licenses, said he also wants to consider allowing people to bring their own wine or beer to enjoy with their meal.

One of the reasons for having BYOB is so people can have wine and avoid the markup on the wine, Dushku said.

“Residents who want to enjoy a fine wine, they can pay the value of the wine which they perceive the price to be,” Dushku said.

Restaurants would still be able to charge a corkage fee.

Councilors did not want to allow just any restaurant to allow BYOB. Those wanting to have it would have to get a license and Councilors said they would not be in favor of giving it to restaurants with liquor licenses.

The town has 33 liquor licenses for restaurants, but all have been issued (read more about adding liquor licenses here). While the Council considers adding more licenses, BYOB could be available to new restaurants coming to town.

Some Councilors worried about whether restaurants with BYOB would have the same safeguards as ones with liquor licenses. The state requires restaurants with a liquor license must have train their staff to serve alcohol safely, so they know the signs of someone being impaired by alcohol, said Watertown Police Lt. Michael Lawn. BYOB are not required to have that training, Lawn said.

Some communities in Massachusetts allow BYOB, including Belmont, Boston, Brookline and Medford.

Because the town does not allow BYOB, Lawn said the Police Department should be involved with the discussions about allowing the practice.

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