Home » Select Board awards liquor license to Hotel Marblehead over brewery

Select Board awards liquor license to Hotel Marblehead over brewery

In a narrow vote, the Select Board awarded the one available liquor license to local business Hotel Marblehead instead of Hopothecary Ales, a craft-beer brewery that was looking to establish a bar in town with plans that have received mixed reactions from residents.

Hopothecary Ales Manager Steven Gabardi was looking to take over the property located at 31 Atlantic Ave. That address currently belongs to The Mariner’s welcoming office, but will be vacated when the office moves to the assisted-living facility this year.

The board held sequential hearings for the businesses on Thursday to determine which would receive the lone liquor license. Board members Alexa Singer and Erin Noonan voted in favor of Hopothecary Ales while Jim Nye and Jackie Belf-Becker voted in favor of Hotel Marblehead. They were joined by Chair Moses Grader, who was the deciding vote.

Hotel Marblehead Manager Julius Sokol and Paul Lynch, an attorney for the business, presented their case to receive the license first.

The building, located at 264 Pleasant St., is a 10-room inn and has been in operation since 1972. After a number of renovations were done on the building, the hotel currently has a reception area with a gathering space of roughly 400 square feet that can fit 11 people.

Lynch mentioned that the hotel has never had a liquor license, however with the Mariner opening across the street, there will be higher demand for alcohol to be served for those visiting family members living at the facility.

“The inn is going to become more and more on demand now with the Mariner being across the street. Families are going to come, they’re going to stay there, they’re going to visit their family at the Mariner. They’re going to come back to the place at night and don’t want to start traveling around town to try and find a glass of wine or a beer,” he said.

Lynch also added that the hotel’s “proven track record” should merit a license.

Gabardi and his counsel, John Connell, followed, giving background on the brewery. The business currently has one location in North Reading, which opened in 2021, and was looking to expand to Marblehead. Connell, who is originally from Marblehead, stated that the brewery has had no violations and said that the location has become a popular destination throughout the last two years.

“The applicant has made extensive canvasing through the town as far as whether this concept is in demand, and it’s been found that this concept is very much in demand,” Connell said.

Connell continued the pitch by saying that there are a number of breweries in multiple surrounding communities like Beverley and Salem, however Marblehead is currently without one.

The business would have created “at least 15 new jobs” according to Connell, who further contrasted the two applications. He said that Hopothecary would be in a commercial zone, while Hotel Marblehead is located in a residential area. He said Hopothecary would be primarily serving Marblehead residents, and the hotel would mostly serve out-of-town residents. In addition, Connell said, they would create more jobs and meal-tax revenue along with a much larger seating capacity.

Some residents expressed heavy opposition. Lynne Shanoski, who lives directly across from the proposed site on Hawkes Street, spoke at the hearing with concern that the business would be “changing the face of the neighborhood.”

She said that the business would create an increase in crime and cause safety concerns in addition to traffic congestion, citing the proposal of a 140-person occupancy at the site.

“I’ve seen numerous cars be hit in front of 21 Hawkes St., my own car included two weeks ago,” she said. “There’s not enough parking for the residences.”

In addition, Shanoski mentioned her concern about noise pollution, specifically regarding dump trucks coming to pick up trash from the brewery’s dumpsters, which she said will be right outside of her window. She also mentioned that the proposed hours of the restaurant would allow them to be open until 11 p.m., when many residents in the area, like herself, go to bed early during the week.

“We have noise pollution of cleaning crews coming in, patrons lingering, and talking, and smoking, and laughing in front of our windows,” said Shanoski. “That’s all going to happen, we suspect.”

Resident Wendy Webber spoke in favor of Hopothecary Ales, saying that the brewery would have a positive impact on the town.

“I’m all for this. I think it’s a great thing for the town,” she said. “I think it’s a great place to gather for social or family friends.”

Webber also mentioned that the brewery would be walkable for many people in town, countering Shanoski’s argument about vehicle congestion.

Grader called it a difficult decision, and inquired to Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer about the policy and process on applying for a site-specific liquor license that would allow the brewery to operate. When asked how long he could wait to see if that option was viable, Gabardi said that would not work, as they had a lease opt-out where he needed to inform the landlord of his decision by June 15.