Deschambault bill to boost restaurant industry receives hearing

Posted: January 19, 2018 | Senator Deschambault

A bill by Sen. Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford, to allow businesses to expand and sell alcohol to customers in expanded spaces, such as on sidewalks received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on January 16.

LD 1738, “An Act To Permit the Sale and Consumption of Alcohol in an Area That Is Not Contiguous to Licensed Premises,” would allow municipalities to pass ordinances to allow restaurants to expand their capacity through tables in spaces non-contiguous with the restaurant itself.

“While some restaurants have outdoor spaces immediately connected to their indoor, brick-and-mortar space, others are located where the best available outdoor space is separated from the restaurant by a public passageway,” said Sen. Deschambault. “Under current law, alcohol cannot be carried by wait staff from the restaurant to tables in such a space. That’s what this bill seeks to change.”

Maine’s restaurant industry is heavily affected by seasonal demands, with many restaurants doing the bulk of their business during the busy summer, tourist season. Those busy days make up for the sometimes slower pace of restaurant traffic during snowy winter days. Outdoor spaces like patios help restaurants expand their footprint, bring in more customers, and hire more waitstaff.

“Making the best possible use of common spaces in a municipal downtown improves the quality of life for all residents,” said Rick McCarthy of the Mayors’ Coalition. “The change set proposed in LD 1738 will allow for such creative use, at the discretion of the local municipality.”

The City of Biddeford; the City of Westbrook; and Rising Tide Brewing owner and State Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, also spoke in favor of LD 1738.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill.

LD 1738 faces further action in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and votes in the House and Senate.