Gardner Announces Waiver of Restaurant Liquor License Fees For 2021

Move Aims to Help Businesses during the Covid-19 Pandemic

GARDNER – November 10th, 2020 – Gardner Mayor Michael J. Nicholson is pleased to announce the City of Gardner is suspending fees for liquor licenses for Gardner businesses that apply for on- premise consumption liquor licenses for the 2021 calendar year.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses across the City have been forced to adapt to a difficult and ever changing set of circumstances. This was particularly hard for businesses in the restaurant industry that had to close for a portion of the year due to regulations put in place to curb the spread of the virus. It is Mayor Nicholson’s hope to lessen the burden these businesses are facing by temporarily suspending food and liquor license fees.

“I would like to sincerely thank Mayor Nicholson for finding new ways for the City to help alleviate the small business crisis precipitated by the pandemic,” said Rick Walton, owner of Gardner Ale House and Moon Hill Brewing Company “For so many of us, the cash flow just isn’t there; waiving the liquor license fee helps a lot.”

Under Massachusetts General Laws, fees for liquor licenses are set by vote of the License Commission. This group of three individuals are appointed by the Mayor with approval by the City Council. Mayor Nicholson presented the commission with his proposed order suspending these fees for the coming year at their meeting on November 10th, and they voted unanimously to endorse the Mayor’s proposal.

“This has been a tough year for everyone in the City, particularly for our restaurants who had to close and then were only able to operate on a take-out basis for the majority of this past year. This has only been exacerbated by the cooler temperatures causing many locations to end their outdoor seating option” said Mayor Nicholson. “We are taking this move to help our local businesses get back on their feet and get through this pandemic even with the challenges that we are facing. Thank you to the License Commission for voting to approve this proposal, and I look forward to seeing how it can help our businesses during these trying times.”

Liquor license applications run annually with the calendar year with the License Commission voting to approve applications during the month of December. This proposal would only be in effect for the 2021 calendar year. “I think this is a great way for us to be able to help businesses who have been struggling,” Michael Fitzsimmons, chair of the Gardner License Commission said during the meeting.

Twenty-seven businesses in Gardner annually apply for liquor licenses- including restaurants, social clubs, cafes, and other food establishments across the City. This waiver does not extend for licenses for off- premise consumption, as those establishments were able to remain open during the COVID-19 shut down.