BERLIN — Though some were skittish to further promote drinking during town events, the Berlin Mayor and Council decided Monday to allow The Globe to operate an outside bar during the next New Year’s Eve celebration, provided the business can acquire all the proper licensing.
Jennifer Dawicki, co-owner of The Globe in downtown Berlin, approached the council requesting permission to set up an outside bar along a stretch of Broad St. from 6 p.m.-1 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24.
“I’m very conflicted on this,” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.
This winter will mark the second annual Berlin New Year’s Eve celebration. Last year’s debut proved to be wildly popular, bringing in hundreds of visitors to watch the ball drop in the middle of town at midnight. Lynch noted how many families attended the event and worried that bringing alcohol sales to the street might turn away some looking for a different atmosphere.
“I have a problem with alcohol sales on town property, on town streets,” she told Dawicki. “I think you’re going to have a bunch of drunks.
Lynch called the situation “a Pandora’s box” and pointed out that granting Dawicki permission to set up an outside bar would set a precedent any restaurant could cite in the future. Councilwoman Lisa Hall shared some of Lynch’s feelings and remarked that it will be “less of a family event” if alcohol becomes a bigger part.
Dawicki acknowledged Lynch’s fear, but asked the council to trust her to manage the bar responsibly.
“I understand your concern,” she told the assembly.
According to Dawicki, if approved, The Globe will line the perimeter of the bar with snow fence, containing the outside drinking to a small area and not allowing alcohol to go past the fence. Doormen will be on hand to check IDs as well, she added.
It was Dawicki’s belief that an outside bar at The Globe on New Year’s Eve would only serve to “even the playing field” with the Atlantic Hotel, which due to its liquor license and property has the ability to sell alcohol to a small outside area all year.
Another benefit to supporting The Globe’s petition for an outside bar, said Dawicki, is that it will help streamline service during the crowded New Year’s Eve event.
Last year, downtown Berlin was packed from the early evening until after midnight. Because of the popularity of the event, this year’s celebration could bring in even more people.
“Events are growing,” said Dawicki. “They’re only getting bigger and better attended.”
By allowing The Globe to set up a bar in the street, reasoned Dawicki, the press of people trying to get inside the restaurant itself will be relieved substantially, making it more convenient and safe for everyone involved.
Mayor Gee Williams pointed out that the streets will be closed for the ball drop anyway, making liability concerns moot. Dawicki added that the bar will be set up in a manner so as not to interrupt the flow of street traffic going to neighboring shops.
“No sidewalks will be blocked,” she promised.
Though Lynch questioned allowing alcohol to be sold on town streets, she did acknowledge that Berlin’s already approved Oktoberfest will be doing just that. However, she called New Year’s Eve a “horse of a different color” compared to Oktoberfest, which will take place in the afternoon.
Councilman Troy Purnell motioned that the town give Dawicki a probationary chance this year. “I’m up for giving you a shot at it to see how it works,” he told Dawicki.
The motion passed by a narrow margin, 3-2, with the town agreeing to write Dawicki a letter of support. However, she will still need to visit the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners to seek approval for a special one-day license.