Two restrictions on Foodie’s liquor license will be lifted, the limits on outdoor advertising and a ban on wine tastings at the supermarket, but a request by the store to spread out wine and beer displays was rejected.

Two restrictions on Foodie’s liquor license will be lifted, the limits on outdoor advertising and a ban on wine tastings at the supermarket, but a request by the store to spread out wine and beer displays was rejected.

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Robert Allen, the lawyer for Foodie’s, along with Victor Leon, Sr. and Victor Leon, Jr. from the grocery store, present their case to the Board of Selectmen on Monday. Foodie’s was asking the board to lift restrictions on their liquor license.

 

A slimmed-down Board of Selectmen (member Elizabeth Sullivan recused herself because her employer does business with Foodie’s) voted to lift the advertising and wine tasting bans after Town Counsel Robert Troy issued an opinion that the board did not have the authority to impose the restriction. Troy said that authority lies solely with the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission.

However, remaining board members Andre Martecchini and Jon Witten could not agree on a third restriction, to allow the store to spread out its beer and wine displays throughout the store.  Martecchini voted to lift the restriction but Witten voted no, leaving the limit in place.

The original liquor license said the store could sell beer and wine in a designated 522-foot area. Foodie’s owner Victor Leon wanted to keep the total square footage the same, but spread out the displays in accordance with his company’s marketing plan (display wine with cheeses, etc.)

“We’re trying to build our business,” he said. “I take exception to being constrained from a merchandising and marketing perspective.”

Leon said he had no plans to make his establishment into a liquor store, but pointed out that some of his competition, stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s do cross-marketing all the time.

“Less than two percent of our space is dedicated to beer and wine,” he said. “I don’t expect that to change.”

John Aieta, attorney for Duxbury Wine and Spirits owners Joe and Carole Carroll, said he disagreed with the idea that the Board of Selectmen didn’t have the right to impose restrictions on a liquor license.

“I think the local licensing authority absolutely has the right to impose conditions as long as they’re not arbitrary and capricious,” Aieta said. “The larger question is, in this instance, that those conditions were imposed and the licensee here, Foodie’s, accepted those conditions. The board imposed those conditions, as Foodie’s accepted those conditions, they should live by those conditions.”

Several residents spoke on behalf of Foodie’s, saying that they would hate to see the Leons take their business elsewhere.

“The only reason I’m here is that I go to the market. It’s probably the most pleasant place you have in the whole town,” said Joseph Ridge of Evergreen Street. “You shouldn’t ever let them leave ... you’ve got a solid family here.”

Bob Casey of Washington Street brought a petition to the board with 200 signatures of people he said were opposed to lifting the license restrictions. Casey said that Foodie’s was currently spreading out its beer and wine displays, in violation of their license.

“What these folks are looking for is to be rewarded for bad behavior,” Casey said.

“The primary concern is to keep alcohol away from minors and if it’s going to be displayed about the store I don’t know how you’re going to keep that from happening,” said Greg Sanders of Osborn’s Country Store.

“We’re not then looking at public good issues, which we should look at. I don’t believe the Board of Selectmen should manage competition,” said John Bear of Old Mill Lane.

Leon said he isn’t trying to put anybody out of business.

“We think we have a vast future in Duxbury ... without hopefully hurting anybody,” he said. “Over the hill are the giants, they’d like to put us all out of business. I have no intention of being that kind of vicious competitor.”

When it came time to take a vote, Witten said he believed the reason the initial license was issued was because of the restrictions, and changing them changes the entire context of the situation.

“I thought we had an understanding,” he said. “It was because of the conditions that we agreed to impose. I saw that as a bilateral agreement ... that’s the part I have trouble with.”

Witten said he also couldn’t see how the 522 feet could be enforced by the town’s building inspector if the displays were spread across the store.

Martecchini supported the lifting of the 522 feet restriction.

“I think it’s essential to their business plan,” he said.

The 1-1 vote effectively killed the motion to lift the restriction.