P&Z Watch: Bruce Museum Café Menu Okay’d to Include Liquor

An application was approved by Greenwich’s Planning & Zoning Commission that will allow the Bruce Museum serve liquor in their café.

On Tuesday the commission approved a zoning text amendment to allow non-profit museums in Greenwich to serve alcohol under a non-profit public museum permit issued by state’s Liquor Control Commission.

The current Dept of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division allows public non-profit museums to serve alcohol on premises when permitted under a “Nonprofit Public Museum Liquor Permit,” but Greenwich’s regulations didn’t acknowledge such a permit type.

Per state statutes, a municipality may permit, or restrict, issuance of any type of State issued liquor permits.  With the approval the town will conform to the state statute.

The museum café will be allowed the retail sale of beer, wine, cider and spirits on any day they are open to the public.

Representing the applicant, attorney Bruce Cohen, noted the museum recently completed the construction and opening of an addition that includes a café on the main floor, available to visitors and the public. There is indoor seating for approximately 40 patrons, an associated kitchen space, and an adjacent patio area for use by both café and museum guests.

Currently the café is operated by Aux Delices, offering seasonal menus designed specifically for the museum.

Allowing “Nonprofit Public Museum Liquor Permit” for nonprofit museums as an accessory use in residential zones is similar to how the town handles liquor permits at local Clubs.

The applicant’s paperwork noted that one of the visions of Greenwich’s POCD is to promote Greenwich as a community of world-class public art. Guiding principle #6 is to provide the best quality infrastructure, municipal facilities, cultural institutions, and health services. And one of the POCD’s objectives is to continue to strengthen Downtown as the central business district of Greenwich and the core of the community by creating vibrancy, and implementing improvements to parking, and recreational spaces.

Commissioner Nick Macri asked if there was any other public non-profit museum in Greenwich.

Chair Margarita Alban noted the Brandt Art Center was considered a museum but was not open to the public without an appointment.

She said Greenwich had eased up regulations concerning liquor permits over time, and was one of the last towns to end distance separation between bars.

(P&Z Strikes Down More Distance Separation Rules for Greenwich Restaurant Liquor Licenses May 2015)

(1,000 Ft Separation Rule for Package Stores Consigned to History September 2014)

“There was a lot of objection to getting rid of those distances,” Alban recalled. “There were no terrible results, but everybody was sure that we would be full of…”

“Drunks,” someone said.

As for the statewide permit possibility for non profit public museums, Alban said it was likely that other towns in Connecticut already allowed followed suit.

“If a museum were not able to obtain the state liquor license, then they would not be able to serve under regulations?” Mr. Macri asked.

“That is correct,” Mr. Cohen said.

“If  the Bruce failed to meet the state licensing requirements, they wouldn’t be able to serve the liquor. So we would be allowing only what the state allows.”

The commission closed the application, and later in the meeting voted unanimously to approve it.

See also:

The Bruce is Back: Two Disciplines Under One Museum Roof, with Expanded Collections, a Café, Auditorium March 2023