Mayor Approves BYOB Liquor Law; Regulations to be Set

The city could soon begin allowing patrons to “carry-in” their own liquor at smaller establishments now that Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini has signed a new ordinance, authorizing the activity.

Fiorentini signed the legislation Tuesday—a week after Haverhill city councilors approved the amendment to the city code. Conventionally known as BYOB—or “bring your own bottle,” Haverhill joins a growing list of communities allowing patrons to drink their own wine and beer at particular businesses. The city began considering the special class of license after Shawna Kelley of Artmosphere, formerly the Paint and Wine Lounge, complained about the high cost of standard liquor licenses and related expenses.

“I need to change my business mode to survive in Haverhill,” Kelley wrote in a letter to commissioners. She said the liquor license cost is only part of the problem, explaining liability insurance and a state requirement that liquor be purchased from distributors add to her expenses. “License and purchasing from the wholesaler is actually more money than I make selling alcohol,” Kelley said.

Before such licenses may be granted, however, the Haverhill License Commission must approve regulations. While the commission is meeting tonight, the legislation wasn’t signed in time to make it on the agenda. State law requires public meeting items to be advertised in advance.

The carry-in license may be issued only to businesses holding a common victualler license, which governs cooking, preparing and serving food; having 30 or fewer seats; and operating either downtown or associated with a non-profit arts and cultural organization.