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Council Approves Liquor License for Coffee Shop

The council approved this liquor license despite several residents speaking out against serving Irish coffee and espresso martinis at this Portsmouth coffee shop.

Espresso martinis in Portsmouth? Not in my backyard, said several local residents. 

Despite several residents' objections, the Portsmouth Town Council approved Custom House Coffee's request for a liquor license on Monday night. 

The vote was 4-3 with Judi Staven, Liz Pedro and Paul Kesson in opposition.

There will be some restrictions, however. The coffee shop must not provide alcohol outside on the patio and only serve drinks between the hours of noon and 9 p.m.  

Only two residents spoke in favor of Custom House Coffee's request for a liquor license during the public hearing even though hundreds of residents signed petitions in approval. 

"This is a very, very nice situation. I don't go there regularly, but I go there often," Kathleen Melvin said. "I hope you would give it favorable attention."  

Several residents said they opposed the liquor license due to the shop's proximity to the Kings Grant Fellowship Church and the Portsmouth Abbey, a private school. State law prohibits any establishment to serve liquor within 200 feet of a church.

"I don't think you should vote for this. I don't want serving alcohol anywhere near a religious establishment," Peter Roberts said. "Next thing you know, it will be near schools." 

"As an abutter, right in my backyard, I don't want them serving alcohol. It's going to turn into a restaurant-type bar now in the nighttime," said Joe Izzi.  

"I'm very concerned about the neighbors in the neighborhood being impacted," Councilor Liz Pedro said.

Letters were sent in May to Kings Grant development residents. An informational meeting was also held at the coffee shop during the summer. Very few residents attended the meeting. 

The shop's owners said the reason behind the push for a liquor license is due to the economy. Plans to put bridge tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge has raised concern with small business owners in town. 

"Everyone knows, there's a lot of concern with the tolls coming up. Mark and I are concerned about how that will affect our business...We're very concerned," Custom House co-owner George Doumaney said. 

Custom House Coffee currently operates shops in Middletown and Portsmouth, with a third shop to open this summer in Fall River, MA. The Middletown store has operated with a liquor license since last year. 

What do you think about the council's decision? Tell us your opinion in the comment section below. 

a resident with a watchful eye September 25, 2012 at 09:13 PM
East Side, you are dead wrong! If an establishment with a liquor license sells to another then the new owner MUST apply to the town council for a liquor license transfer!
East side September 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Not true, depends on the type of sale. Why don't you provide your back up as you have in the past posts. Also, when you pretending to be a lawyer, take a look at all of the types of transfers and let us know what the loop holes are that would allow your statement to be false. Now, go off and have fun...
East side October 03, 2012 at 12:19 AM
They also have a fine desert section...that now comes in liquid form - oh yeahhhhh!!!! Kings Grant folks - go see your tax assessor this year - you live next to a bar. Those patrons drink.
Quahaug Nation October 06, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I agree that this is a precedent, but I disagree that it is a "wrong". The Portugese American Club is a fraternal organization with a long history in Portsmouth and a strong affiliation with St. Anthony's (and St. Barnabas, for that matter). Prohibition, like Jimi Hendrix, has been dead for a long time. Get over it and start supporting our local businesses in any way we can. And by the way, nobody goes to the Feast for the booze, they go for the chourico & peppers.
Jeremy K. Rauschert November 17, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Ohhhh nooo This is Moral turpitude! How terrible that they were granted a liquor license. Now all the prostitutes will show up and the dopers will be out front selling drugs and minors will be getting drunk now. Well at least the Pastor won't have far to go now if he can't turn water into wine!

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