Interest surrounding the first liquor license in New Providence, which is up for bid right now, continues to spark interest around the borough but not from the Murray Hill Inn & Suites.
Kerry Lee, the Inn’s General Manager, penned a letter on Nov. 8 to Borough Clerk Wendi B. Barry, stating that the Inn would not be bidding on a liquor license at the established minimum of $400,000.
“The minimum bid price being set by the Borough is significantly higher than what we had anticipated,” Lee stated in the letter, which was included in the Council’s Nov. 26 meeting agenda. “Please realize the our decision has been made with significant difficulty."
But Mayor J. Brooke Hern said the borough is still receiving substantial interest in the first license.
“I think there are some great opportunities that will allow this effort to realize its full potential and really jump start our downtown economy, help revitalize our business district, getting more people into our downtown to patronize all of our stores by having this thriving restaurant,” Hern said. “We’re off to a good start. I’m optimistic about how our bidding process is going to go. Although we’re seeing Murray Hill Inn won’t be in this first round, I’m guessing we’ll see them in a later one. We’re in a solid position here and we’re off to a good start in terms of where the bidding process is going.”
Councilman Bob Robinson said there have been two committee meetings related to the liquor license since the council’s Nov. 12 meeting and he, too, is optimistic about the bidding process.
“The marketing is working. The advertising is working,” Robinson said. “We’re getting positive responses. [There are] opportunities in New Providence that weren’t available until recently that has sparked new interest.”
Robinson said he thinks there is a misperception among community members about who will be getting the first liquor license.
“I spoke with one restaurateur who was under the assumption that the Murray Hill Inn was going to get this liquor license,” he said. “And it’s just a misperception, a miscommunication. There are no done deals. New Providence is open for business and business is open to everyone.”
One location that may be of particular interest for bidders is the former location of Chen’s Restaurant, which closed just days before Superstorm Sandy hit the area, according to Michelle Brugger, President of the New Providence Business and Professional Association, and Joe Steiner, owner of Organization Resources and a consultant for the NPBPA. According to a report in the Independent Press, the restaurant closed because of “financial difficulties.”
In early November, the borough began accepting bids at a minimum of $400,000, a price set by council at the Sept. 17 meeting.
According to the borough, in order to bid on the license, interested parties must complete the ABC Retail License Application, as required by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC).
The ABC Retail License Application is due on January 14, 2013. Once bidders have prequalified, they will be able to submit a sealed bid. Bids must be received by February 11, 2013 and the license will be awarded on February 25, 2013 (tentative).
Additional information, including the borough ordinance, council resolution, and timeline, are available on the borough’s website, www.newprov.org.
To read Patch's past articles on New Providence Liquor Licenses, click here: http://newprovidence.patch.com/topics/new-providence-liquor-licenses