PITTSFIELD -- The Licensing Board has granted the Dakota Restaurant permission to start selling alcohol earlier on Sunday mornings.
To do so, the board accepted a provision of state law that allows the earlier sale of alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
Douglas Hartnett, the manager of the restaurant on South Street, said the 10 a.m. start time would coincide with its 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. brunch. After the newer provision of state law was adopted by the board, Hartnett asked them to amend his previous request for earlier hours from 11 to 10 a.m.
The board had weighed acceptance of the section of state law, Chapter 138, Section 33B, until members were convinced it would not force the city to approve every application for earlier Sunday, Memorial Day and Christmas Day hours.
City Solicitor Kathleen E. Degnan had been asked to research the issue and reported that, although there seemed to be no case law on the subject, it appears local licensing boards could accept or reject a request for earlier hours at its discretion.
She added that when she referred to the section, an official with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission raised no questions and said the ABCC itself has no authority in the matter of earlier hours.
After further discussion on Monday, board member Dana Doyle cited a line from Section 33B that says the licensing authority "may authorize" earlier serving starts between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., indicating it isn't obliged to grant all requests.
"We wouldn't want to have our hands tied, if an establishment did not have a good record," said Vice Chairman Robert Quattrochi.
"I would rather walk before I run on this," Quattrochi said, but he was later convinced to approve 10 a.m. -- rather than 11 a.m. -- for the Dakota by other board members.
"I can't think of a better candidate to do this [first]," member Thomas Campoli said.
Doyle and board member Richard Stockwell agreed, Stockwell commenting that the decision is pro-business.
"We do have to be prepared for some flack," Quattrochi said, referring to applicants that might be denied earlier Sunday hours in the future.
Also on Monday, the board approved a billiard/pool entertainment license for J. Allen's Clubhouse Grille at 41 North St.
Board members said they have seen pool tables as a cause of arguments and trouble for bars, but they said the owners, who also own Patrick's Pub on Bank Row, have a good reputation for avoiding such problems.
"It anybody can pull it off, you can," Campoli told the new establishment's manager David N. Powell.
Powell said the area will be well monitored and have security cameras and there will be specific rules for play. In addition, he said, the table would be rented by the hour, presumably by acquaintances, and not have a sign-up process or coin activation.
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