BRICK – The governing body recently expanded the areas of town where breweries could operate, and at least one is scheduled to open at the site of a former restaurant supply store on Route 88, where Icarus Brewing will relocate from its current location in the Lakewood Industrial Park.
Under the new NJ Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) regulations, Icarus and other breweries would not be allowed to go to off-site festivals, and they would be limited to 52 private parties a year, said Mayor John G. Ducey during the July 26 council meeting.
The ABC has also placed restrictions on the type of TV shows the breweries can have on and the music they can play. They would not be allowed to sell coffee or non-alcoholic beverages, the mayor said, not even water or soda.
During the meeting, the governing body voted on and passed a resolution in opposition of these special conditions on limited brewery licenses.
Liquor licenses haven’t been changed in the state since right after prohibition when New Jersey instituted their overall liquor licenses, so they are very restrictive, said Mayor Ducey, who serves as the chairman of the NJ League of Municipalities Liquor License Task Force.
“As we all know, you can’t go into a 7-Eleven or a Wawa to buy beer and wine like you can in other states,” he said during the meeting.
There are also no licenses for just wine and beer, so it is not available in many restaurants, which the mayor called “old-fashioned.”
“The state is trying to revamp everything through the League of Municipalities…we’re trying to revamp the entire thing, starting from scratch,” he said. “It’s a huge, huge undertaking.”
Liquor licenses in the state are based on population, so there are more liquor licenses issued in larger, more populous northern municipalities.
“Then everyone else is limited around the state. Down here in the south, where we didn’t have as many people back then, nobody’s grandfathered in,” the mayor said. “You have a certain number and then that’s it.”
The result is, new restaurants who want to obtain a liquor license can’t get one, he said. And even if one becomes available, they can cost up to $700,000.
The resolution passed during the meeting deals specifically with breweries, which is a relatively new business.
“[Icarus] did ask if we would be in favor of opposing some of the new rules that came out by the ABC, so this resolution opposes the NJ Division of ABC limitations on brewery licenses under the licensed conditions craft breweries are limited to on-site as well as off-site activities,” Mayor Ducey said.
“Anybody with a liquor license – we’re not trying to cut you out by having breweries, but we want to have an overall place for people to enjoy themselves,” he said.
A liquor license that was previously sold to Corrado’s has become available since the food retailer never completed the required paperwork. They had been evicted from the Laurel Square shopping center for nonpayment of rent.