"After years of talk, a bill that could significantly expand the number of restaurants that can sell beer, wine and spirits has finally gotten an initial vote in the Legislature.
The plan is likely to be altered as it moves ahead, and last week’s action by the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee was designed in part to compel more serious conversations about the long-discussed but long-delayed prospect of ending strict limits on liquor licenses that date to the end of Prohibition.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, said individual municipalities would have to decide if they want the licenses and where they’d be allowed. They would cost up to $10,000 a year, depending on a restaurant’s size, and couldn’t be sold.
“There’s a significant portion of economy that is being held back because of these laws,” Burzichelli said.
Holders of existing liquor licenses, some which cost more than a half-million dollars, could be eligible for five years of tax credits if the license values go down, but James Talerico, the senior director of development for the Briad Restaurant Group, said the formula isn’t enough.
“If you are going to credit a company for expanding liquor licenses, there has to be a better way to reimburse the people that have invested so much money into those,” said Talerico, whose company is the nation’s largest T.G.I. Friday’s franchise operator."