Outside New Year’s Eve Bar OK’d In Berlin

SNOW HILL – The Board of License Commissioners (BLC) granted Jeff Hamer of Fins Ale House and Raw Bar in Berlin a temporary license to serve alcohol at an outside bar on New Year’s Eve.

The agreement will give Hamer’s restaurant approval to add a temporary bar to the building’s ground floor porch, allowing patrons to take alcoholic drinks off of the establishment’s property and onto the streets for the Town of Berlin’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

Hamer said the temporary bar would allow patrons to purchase alcohol without entering the restaurant and disrupting those dining inside the building. The inside bar on the first floor is located beyond the tables toward the back of the room.

“So the request today is to put a temporary one-day bar on the patio to serve off premise or on premise, but for people who want a plastic cup to go,” Hamer told the board. “It would be beer, wine and liquor.”

Hamer’s request to do so between the hours of 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. were granted by BLC officials.

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The Town of Berlin will host its annual New Year’s Eve celebration and ball drop Dec. 31 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and other establishments will join Hamer in serving alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption.

Mayor Gee Williams said the Dec. 31 event is one of the few in which alcohol is permitted on the streets.

Each January, the Berlin Town Council votes to grant alcohol exemptions for special events in the upcoming year, according to Williams, giving businesses enough time to prepare.

Alcoholic beverages between the intersection of Stevenson Lane and Main Street to 14 S. Main St., 104 Pitts St. to the intersection of Broad and Commerce streets, Main Street to the intersection of Broad and Gay Streets and 4 Bay St. to the back parking lot of the Atlantic Hotel are permitted for six special events in 2016.

Williams said since Fins is located within the defined perimeters, the BLC would see no issue in granting the temporary license. He added the town submits exemption requests for Worcester County beverage license holders in Berlin to the BLC each January, defining the areas and hours of operation as well as the events in which alcohol will be consumed on the streets.

If businesses within the perimeter receive permission from the BLC, such as the case with Fins, the town will allow them to serve alcoholic beverages, so long as the drinks are not in glass containers.

In 2016, the town allowed alcoholic consumption on public streets for May Day Play Day, Berlin Jazz and Blues Bash, Heritage Fair, Fiddlers Convention, Octoberfest and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

Williams said he does not expect the town to extend its open container policy to any of the other 32 events the town hosts throughout the year.

“This is not a right, but a privilege earned by the community,” he said.

Hamer told the BLC the town’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop is within a contained area and is controlled by police and fire departments.

Hamer’s seven-day permit for beer, wine and liquor can only be served within the restaurant’s building and on the outside decks surrounding the establishment. The temporary permit will allow the restaurant to place a bar outside and the town’s exemption will allow them to serve alcohol for off-premise consumption on the night of the event.

Also in the meeting, BLC officials granted Hamer’s application to transfer 99 percent stock of his seven-day license permit to his father, Ralph Hamer, Jr.

Hamer said he will continue to manage the daily operation of his three restaurants and has entered into a management contract, which the BLC approved.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.