Subcommittees to Ask Council to Adopt BYOB in Watertown

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The Town Council will consider whether to allow restaurants to offer a “bring your own bottle” option to diners after joint subcommittees voted to recommend a set of rules for BYOB licenses. 

The licenses would be available to restaurants that do not have a liquor license. Also, the Joint Rules & Ordinances, Economic Development, and Public Safety committees recommended that the restaurants must be full service, which means they have a “full wait staff, sit down and eat-in dining services for the vast majority of patrons,” according to the recommended ordinance.

A BYOB license could cost $1,000 a year, and would be issued by the town’s Licensing Board. They would to be available to a restaurant which has had a suspended or revoked liquor license. The restaurants must also carry alcohol liability insurance.

Diners could bring their own alcohol and drink it only if they have ordered food, which could be an entree, a side or an appetizer, according to the proposed ordinance.

The alcohol would be poured by restaurant employees and served in glasses provided by the establishment. Employees would have to be trained in responsible alcohol service.

“Corkage” fees – charges for opening the bottle – may be charged by the restaurant, but are not required. The ordinance does not limit the amount of the corkage fee.

If there are violations of the BYOB ordinance, restaurants could be hit with a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for the third or more offense, according to the draft ordinance. In addition, the Licensing Board can impose a temporary or complete revocation of the license.

The members of the subcommittees voted 4-1 to recommend the BYOB ordinance to be considered to the full Council.  Council Vice President Steve Corbett voted against it.

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