David Himmelberger, attorney to the Wellesley stars, and client Peter Katsikaris of Fells Market, were given the floor at this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting to discuss the possible sale of beer and wine at Wellesley grocery stores (Roche Bros., also had reps at the meeting…and Whole Foods would be a likely suspect). Himmelberger did all the talking, but claimed his client is constantly being asked by customers buying their Sunday roasts why they can’t also purchase some wine there.
The attorney and client have been keeping a close eye on the movement to allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine in nearby communities, including Weston. They aim to get an article on the warrant for the December special Town Meeting, preferably with the Board of Selectmen’s blessing (as opposed to just going the citizen’s petition route).
An effort to allow local stores to sell booze has been in the works for a while, with a proposal by Fells Market to get something on the most recent Town Meeting aired in February but shelved shortly before it in order to fully flesh it out. The proposal did not push for actual dedicated liquor stores, like those now opening in Needham, and those that border Wellesley in Newton and Natick. Lingering questions include exactly which businesses in town would be considered grocery stores (Wasik’s?).
The general timeline supporters would like to see is that the Board of Selectmen back an article for the Town Meeting warrant, approval at Town Meeting in December, state legislature approval and then to put the matter to a vote by residents, possibly next year. From there, the Board of Selectmen would deal with applications/licenses, etc.
Allowing Wellesley grocery stores into the alcoholic beverages business would continue a gradual loosening of regulations in town. Residents last year voted in favor of allowing restaurants with 50 or more seats the right to apply for liquor licenses, whereas previously you needed 100 seats. Smaller businesses have argued that they found it tough, with being able to sell alcoholic drinks, to compete with bigger establishments in town and in nearby communities.
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