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City hopes to resolve Privateers, concession stand issue

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The bureaucratic red tape involving the city’s concession stand at the municipal ice rink and the state Liquor Authority may be straightened out in time for the Watertown City Council to discuss it Monday night.

The Liquor Authority notified the city late last week that Savory Beverage and Beyond, the local catering company that sells beer and wine at the Thousands Island Privateers hockey games, also must run the city’s concession stand at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. The city has operated the concession stand for the past two years.

On Tuesday night, council members were unable to vote on a new franchise agreement with the Federal Hockey League team until the matter was straightened out with the Liquor Authority.

On Thursday, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner said she was meeting later in the day with Nicole J. Kirnan, owner of the Privateers, and Savory Cafe owner Steven A. Baytos to discuss having the catering company take over the concession stand. The outcome of the meeting was not immediately available Thursday night.

But she said she hoped the issue will be cleared up by the time the City Council meets during a special session Monday night. If something can be worked out with Savory, council members can proceed with passing the new franchise agreement with the team.

“It’s going to depend on what the council wants to charge Savory to run the concession stand,” she said.

The Liquor Authority gave the city until Feb. 1 to work out something with Savory or the catering company no longer could sell beer and wine at the hockey games. That also would have created an economic hardship for the hockey team, city officials said.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said that it was important for the city to retain the concession stand because it was generating about $500 in revenue for the city for each game and that he did not want to lay off the part-time staff that works there.

Working on a different front, City Attorney Robert J. Slye also has been discussing the situation with the Liquor Authority. He also has been getting advice from consultant Anthony J. Casale, a former Liquor Authority chairman and CEO of the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Mr. Slye said Thursday he had no idea why the Liquor Authority determined Savory has to do both — run the concession stand and sell alcohol at the games.

“It’s not why,” he said, stressing he was focusing on solving the problem. “It’s how and how soon.”

William Crowley, the liquor authority’s director of public and legislative affairs, did not return phone calls and emails to explain the agency’s position.

Last year, the city retained Mr. Casale to help the city put together new policies and regulations on selling alcohol at Parks and Recreation Department facilities and making sure the city followed all Liquor Authority rules.

Two years ago, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department took over the concession stand and upgraded it. Until this hockey season, the city lost money on the venture.

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