With the Board of Selectmen’s approval, about a dozen local restaurants can now serve food and alcohol in outdoor dining areas. (Screenshot from Facebook Live by Meg McIntyre)
With the Board of Selectmen’s approval, about a dozen local restaurants can now serve food and alcohol in outdoor dining areas. (Screenshot from Facebook Live by Meg McIntyre)

DRACUT — Following approval from the Board of Selectmen Tuesday, a host of local restaurants can now serve food and alcohol in outdoor dining areas.

In a virtual meeting, the board approved licenses for outdoor dining with alcohol for about a dozen local businesses, including Tavern on the Line, The Village Inn, Mack’s Rendezvous, Brothers Sports Bar & Grille, Dracut House of Pizza, Paddy’s Ale House, Owen & Ollies, Primo Pizza Restaurant, Bobola’s Family Restaurant, The Tavern at Lenzi’s and Scola’s Restaurant. Restrictions around outdoor table service have been relaxed under Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan for Massachusetts, allowing local licensing authorities to approve changes to existing liquor licenses.

According to Town Manager Ann Vandal, all of the outdoor dining areas have undergone inspections from the Building Department, the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Board of Health. Though the vote to approve the licenses was ultimately unanimous, Selectman Joseph DiRocco Jr. raised concerns about the outdoor dining areas becoming a bar-like atmosphere.

“I don’t want to see a nuisance to the neighborhoods where these places are,” DiRocco said. “I mean, I don’t know, I don’t want to see it as just a bar room, an extension of a bar room outside.”

Town Counsel James Hall told the board that alcohol must be served with food and that patrons must be seated in order to be served, but said the selectmen could choose to specify a time after which alcohol can no longer be served. Selectmen Chairman Jesse Forcier said the responsibility of enforcing any restrictions will primarily fall to the restaurant owners and managers.

“I understand that you can’t serve food until nine and then stay open until one in the morning, but if you’re going to put a limit on it it needs to be something — these people have suffered long enough, not being able to make any money. The workers, the waitresses, the bartenders, the cooks, they’re out of work,” Forcier said. “To really tie their hands, I’m not for that either, but I understand there needs to be some restriction.”

Selectman Tami Dristiliaris made a motion for the licenses to be approved without restrictions, which the board approved unanimously.

“I think we need to let this roll. We need to let it roll, because these people have suffered long enough, and they’re going to go out of business if we don’t let them try to start making money,” she said.

More restaurants are expected to request changes to their liquor licenses to allow outdoor service, and Dristiliaris and Selectman Alison Hughes will serve on a subcommittee to review the approval process and consider any requests that are received before the board’s next official meeting.

Other actions the board took Tuesday include:

  • Granted an amendment to a special permit for Lazy River Products LLC, a marijuana retailer and cultivator planning to open on Broadway Road. The amendment reconfigures the location of the company’s retail and cultivation areas and allows for curbside pickup. The company hopes to open in the fall.
  • Approved a request to alter the premises listed on Four Oaks Country Club’s all alcoholic beverages license to reflect renovations to the property
  • Continued a public hearing on a request from Hannaford for an off premises wine and malt beverage license
  • Approved a request to transfer the all alcoholic beverages license and pledge of stock for Back to the Boathouse to 4LM LLC
  • Voted to confirm the appointment of Stephen Chaput as acting chief of police
  • Voted to approve the renewal of a $1.8 million bond anticipation note
  • Approved a license for Green Thumb Growers LLC, a marijuana cultivation microbusiness planning to open at 1935 Lakeview Ave. The board approved a special permit for the company at its May 26 meeting but due to a procedural error did not approve the license at that time.
  • Approved a request to add a stop sign at Beechnut Road and Clement Road South
  • Accepted a donation for the Police Department’s K9, Viper
  • Accepted a donation for the Council on Aging to provide take-home kits
  • Reviewed and voted on the warrant for the June 30 Town Meeting