A restaurant serving liquor in New Providence is closer to becoming a reality after the Borough Council established bid specifications for liquor licenses at a special meeting held Monday night.
Mayor J. Brooke Hern said council members agreed on the bid package specifications, which include a sealed bidding process and a minimum bid of $400,000.
“We started a timeline earlier this year,” Hern said. “We passed a liquor license ordinance that really, I think, embodies a lot of what was being said during the period when the voters were considering the referendum [in 2011] and what we’ve been talking about, and that is that we can control the type of establishments we have to make sure they are the type of businesses that will lift our economy and enhance our quality of life here.”
Hern said the estimated schedule for the bidding process is as follows:
Oct. 8 – Council is slated to adopt a resolution with the bid qualifications and bid package.
Oct. 12 and 19 – Council will advertise the bids.
Oct. 29 – Council plans to have information session with interested bidders. The session may include a panel that will provide information to help bidders with questions and concerns they may have about the bidding process.
Nov. 12 – Applications are due to become a qualified bidder.
Nov. 27 – Council will publish the list of pre-qualified bidders.
Dec. 16 – Sealed bids are due at the Municipal Center.
Jan. 14, 2013 – Council aims to adopt a resolution awarding the license.
Council members unanimously approved amendments to the borough’s liquor license ordinance at a June 25 meeting and established an initial timeline for awarding the first license.
Before the ordinance was approved at that meeting, Hern explained that numerous revisions were made two weeks prior at the recommendation of a potential bidder, Murray Hill Inn, “who had examined it in the context of what a real world business plan might look like and in terms of operating a hotel, if a hotel were to actually be the successful bidder on it.”
The approval of the amended liquor license ordinance in late June was a long time in the making.
On three separate occasions over the past 60 years, various residents have tried to gain council and community support to change the ordinance to allow for the sale of liquor consumption licenses.
Last November, residents voted in favor of a referendum that would allow the borough to sell up to four liquor licenses to restaurants, which allows for alcoholic beverages to be served by the glass.