Some members of Foxborough’s Board of Selectmen have expressed concerns with two of the eight liquor licenses the Kraft Group hopes to acquire to further develop Patriot Place and Route 1.
The Kraft Group told selectmen during the Sept. 18 BOS meeting it is looking for six all alcohol liquor licenses for restaurants and two package store licenses. It is the latter that have some BOS members concerned.
“One of the concerns of the people of Foxborough is they are very hesitant about readily available alcohol in the Route 1 area and [The Kraft Group is] asking for two,” said selectman Virginia Coppola. … “When you are asking the town of Foxborough to go to the special legislation [to acquire liquor licenses] … I’m a little hesitant. I can understand [liquor licenses for] restaurants, I understand that perfectly. That’s where [Patriot Place is] going. I don’t see why [The Kraft Group] would need licenses for liquor stores.”
Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis shared Coppola’s apprehension.
“It doesn’t make sense to me [to have two liquor stores on Route 1] but it’s on the [Kraft Group’s negotiating] list,” DeVellis said. “There’s going to be the good, the bad and the ugly that you have to juggle through [during negotiations].”
In response to the board’s concerns, Ted Fire, director of construction administration for The Kraft Group, told selectmen the two package store licenses should not be termed “liquor stores.”
“I hate to even call them a liquor store,” Fire said of potential tenants that would require package store licenses on Route 1. “Big box retailers that sell alcohol. … It would be more than just alcohol.”
While the Kraft Group could not elaborate on the types of businesses interested in moving to Foxborough that require package store licenses to operate, the company pointed to box stores like Trader Joe's as fitting the description.
“It’s not just a liquor store,” Fire said.
Selectman Lynda Walsh reminded those concerned with the Kraft Group’s interest in more liquor licenses that the request still needs to pass Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen must approve any use of those licenses.
“It’s not like we are saying ‘OK, here’s your eight license go do what you want,’” Walsh said. “Absolutely not.”
Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan, who will sit on the town’s negotiating committee with the Kraft Group, elaborated on Walsh’s point.
“The veto power [of acquiring the liquor licenses] is the Town Meeting,” Sullivan said. “If it is not represented by the town then that’s it. This is going to have to be good for the town and the townspeople are going to have to show up and vote. If they like it, they like it.”
DeVellis believes the Kraft Group publicly stating what the company’s intentions for the liquor licenses are is a positive step in presenting the request at Town Meeting.
“When [The Kraft Group says] eight liquor licenses people panic,” DeVellis said. “But when [The Kraft Group says] a nice Italian restaurant and an expansion to the hotel that needs a liquor license or a Japanese restaurant, it’s a little more palatable. … For the liquor licenses to work … we’ve got to get special legislation from the state because we are not owed any liquor licenses because of our population. We have to ask the state for it and the town has to vote on it.”
With more liquor licenses, DeVellis said there’s a mutual benefit for the town and the Kraft Group if both sides agree on the uses of those licenses.
“[The Kraft Group] certainly needs liquor licenses for them to grow and to expand,” DeVellis said. “They make a profit and the town is better off in some aspects, between the meals tax and the property tax and what have you. You can play with the numbers and it is probably a benefit for both.”
Some selectmen just aren’t sold on the request for two package store licenses, which is something that will likely be discussed extensively during negotiations between the town and the Kraft Group moving forward.
Call for Comments: What do you think about the Kraft Group’s request for eight additional liquor licenses – six for restaurants and two package store licenses? Let us know in the comments!