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Many Interested In First NP Liquor License, But Not Murray Hill Inn

Mayor Hern, Councilman Robinson say there's substantial interest in first New Providence license. However, due to $400,000 minimum price tag, Murray Hill Inn will not place a bid.

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

Tyler D November 30, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Absurd thinking. The council seems to have no clue about what it takes to run a business. Nearly half a million dollars for the privilege of serving a product to customers? Look at it from the business perspective. Probably $40000 in property taxes, sales taxes, fed, state, local income taxes, employee wages, administrative costs, restaurant equipment and repairs, facilities maintenance, electricity, water, gas, insurance... Then, another $400K, a cash-strapped economy.. how much do I have to charge for a meal or a drink? Would customers pay that much? More government money grabs like this and we can shut down business altogether. Liquor licenses should be free or even pay restaurants to open.
P.S. November 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Perry S, Does any one on the council have a small business in NP. It would take at least 5-6 years to even pay off a license of this cost. Assuming they are able to even stay in business that long, based on the increased cost of a meal and the local community that might patronize this establishment. New Providence is not Summit.... If you really want to start changing this town you need to entice not push away prospective businesses. Get real.
ali November 30, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I stayed at the Murray Hill Inn and it was dirty and gross! Woke up to bugs on my ceiling. For the cost they charge you, it should be a lot cleaner and more up to date. Thank god they aren't paying that amount for a liquor license, they need to put any extra money into the hotel rooms!
Robert Steelman December 01, 2012 at 04:00 PM
A buyer in a free marketplace will determine the purchase price of the license. The starting minimum bid may or may not reflect present market conditions. A qualified buyer may be an investor – looking for a return from resale or a user looking to hold the license for a longer period of time. The person buying this license has the possible additional financial burden of investing in a location. There are not many location options, from a zoning perspective, where this works. The scale of the operation is not likely to be a Charlie’s Aunt in Chatham or Poor Herbie’s in Madison. The buyer’s calculation of value will depend on getting all municipal approvals. I hope the town does whatever is necessary to make this a successful venture. Robert Steelman Broker, 4a Realty Summit

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