SHIRLEY – The Board of Selectmen – for the second time over the last several weeks – discussed outdoor dining at the Brookside Grill, which as owner Ryan DeWolf had pointed out, is the smallest eat-in establishment in town.
Now that items on the selectmen’s list of concerns have been cleared up – such as outstanding sewer and tax bills, now paid, and Conservation Commission issues that have since been addressed but not settled yet – the board said determined on June 7 that the current set-up can stay as is, for now.
DeWolf came to the board at its last meeting with a plan for 14 picnic tables already set up behind the building, plus a gazebo and a tent, and a dumpster located elsewhere on the property.
In addition, the Brookside has been hosting live entertainment on the impromptu back yard patio, where the restaurant can now serve alcohol under its current liquor license.
In a later conversation with the Nashoba Valley Voice, Town Administrator Mike McGovern said the Brookside’s liquor license – like those of other establishments in town that serve alcohol on the premises — was expanded to include outside space, per stat-wide emergency COVID-19 restrictions.
The extension is temporary and stays in effect until August 15, or longer if a bill the governor has filed is approved.
Although the selectmen had previously approved only six outside tables and had not okayed the other structures or the entertainment piece, they basically agreed the add-ons were allowable.
“We don’t want to discourage businesses in town,” Selectman Debra Flagg said. But the dumpster had to go.
McGovern later explained that the building commissioner had noted some concerns about the gazebo, but that was a separate matter. So is the conservation issue, which is a more serious matter and beyond the board’s perview, he said. It stems from landscaping the owners had done near the riverbed last spring and had apparently resumed recently, without filing for an Order of Conditions with the Conservation Commission, which McGovern said is a must.
Conservation Agent Mike Fleming had spotted the work and said it had to stop, McGovern said. The necessary paperwork has now been filed and the commissioners will consider the matter separately.
Then there was the matter of an anonymous letter the selectmen had received, complaining about the Brookside’s outdoor setup. It was stuffed in the deposit box outside the Town Offices, McGovern said.
DeWolf said she had made the rounds in the neighborhood and talked to abutters, none of whom had complaints. Some even said they enjoyed the music, and she’d brought back letters of support, she said.
McGovern said it wasn’t the letter that prompted the selectmen’s review of the restaurant’s outdoor dining arrangement but concerns raised by other boards and issues noted during a site walk.