January 14 2016

Selectmen Modify Alcohol Policy to Allow Theaters to Get Licenses

By: Rich Hosford

The Board of Selectmen voted to approve a language change in the town’s alcohol policy that will open the door for alcohol sales in theaters. 


Last spring representatives from AMC Theaters made the case before both the Planning Board and selectmen to allow the sale of alcohol at their theater. They said this was part of a change in the industry that has customers asking for higher-quality amenities geared towards a more adult crowd. In May Town Meeting voted to add a definition of “Theaters and Cinemas” into the zoning bylaws, a necessary step in the process of awarding alcohol licenses to such establishments. 


This week the board voted to add theaters into the alcohol policy, meaning AMC and other theaters can now apply for liquor licenses. 

Selectmen Bob Hogan said the state legislature had approved a liquor license for a theater in Burlington but it was then noticed that the town’s rules and regulations on licenses were specific to only restaurants. The vote this week fixed that issue. 


This doesn’t mean AMC now has a liquor license, Town Administrator John Petrin explained. The theater company will need to apply for one just like any other restaurant.


The board members also talked about the unique difficulties a theater represents in terms of alcohol compliance enforcement. 


Hogan said that in talks with AMC, the company said they have dedicated “walkers” who go through the theater and ensure drinks are not transferred to anyone. The theater will also limit people to two drinks per day so as to fit with the town’s policy of establishments not serving more than two drinks without also serving food. 


AMC stated previously that employees who will be serving alcohol will be TIPS certified and that only employees over 21 years of age will be able to sell or serve alcohol. 

Further, all customers will be carded and they will only be able to purchase one drink at a time, cutting down on the passing of drinks to others. Also, only customers with tickets will be able to purchase drinks – the bar is not meant as a hangout for people not there to see a movie. 

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