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House of Seasoning in Pittsfield submits a second liquor license application to the state, after a citizenship snag

man and woman pose in restaurant

Raissa and Mathieu Doumbia run a Pittsfield restaurant, House of Seasoning Grill, serving African American cuisine featuring Raissa’s blends of spices and flavors. 

PITTSFIELD — A Pittsfield restaurant faces a rare obstacle to obtaining its liquor license: citizenship.

A requirement from a state commission has the House of Seasoning filing its second application since November.

The owners of the restaurant, at 117 Seymour St., received approval from the Pittsfield Licensing Board in November for its liquor license application. Restaurants from the city have to secure approval from that board before sending it on to the state.

But when the House of Seasoning sent its license application to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, the request was denied. State law indicates that a liquor license cannot be granted to any applicant corporation with a majority of owners who are not U.S. citizens. The law also indicates that businesses cannot serve alcohol unless they have a manager who is a U.S. citizen.

The owners, Raissa and Mathieu Doumbia, are not yet U.S. citizens. The couple originally come from the nation of Ivory Coast in West Africa. Their restaurant combines African and American cuisine. State law does not prevent them from applying for the license as owners but does require that established citizens also be part of the corporation.

menu for house of seasoning grill (copy)

House of Seasoning Grill in Pittsfield will submit its second application for a liquor license to the state after running into a snag with their first — a state stipulation that owners of a business applying to serve booze must be U.S. citizens.

To move forward, the restaurant’s owners are applying as a limited liability company, or LLC, as the state commission does not require members of an LLC to be U.S. citizens. The restaurant’s manager must be a U.S. citizen, however, which is the case for House of Seasoning, Martin said.

The licensing board voted unanimously Monday to approve the second application. The restaurant will now await approval from the state, a process that generally takes a few weeks.

“My only comment is sorry you had to go through all this,” said board Chair Thomas Campoli. “All these legalities.”

Matt Martinez can be reached at mmartinez@berkshireeagle.com.

News Reporter

Matt Martinez is a news reporter at The Berkshire Eagle. He worked at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, graduated Marquette University. He is a former Report for America corps member.

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