Legislation aims to end alcohol ban at small restaurants

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Legislation aims to end of ban on alcohol at small restaurants
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Legislation  aims to end of ban on alcohol at small restaurants
Baumbach, left and Sokola talk to the owners of the Newark restaurant who want to see the 35-seating minimum reduced to a dozen.

A bill that would end a ban on small restaurants selling liquor or allowing customers to bring their own bottle of wine,   is headed to the General Assembly for consideration.

House Bill 16 would allow smaller restaurants seating for at least 12 people, to apply for a license to sell alcoholic liquors (or offer BYOB) in connection with the sale of complete meals. The law currently requires seating for at least 35.

Rep. Paul Baumbach, said he was contacted about the issue by Donna Papanicolas, who along with her husband Akillas Papanicolas, the  Mediterranean Grille in Newark.

Donna Papanicolas said the ability to to offer a glass of wine with their Italian and Greek dishes would help increase business, particularly on the weekends.

The restaurant, located in the Newark Shopping Center, is in the districts of Baumbach and Sen. Dave Sokola, both D-Newark.

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“In doing research on this issue, I found that the 35-seat minimum was somewhat arbitrary and there was no hard reason it was chosen. There are probably a lot of wonderful small restaurants like this one that want to offer alcohol with their meals like the bigger eateries, and providing equal access to them for a liquor license is one way to do that. I’m hopeful that my colleagues will agree and help pass this bill when we return to session next week,” Baumbach said.

Smaller restaurants that can be staffed by a few people and offer wine and other beverages are common feature in many cities.

The bill can be viewed here: http://1.usa.gov/1BFaHuQ.

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