At tomorrow’s City Council Meeting, Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) will propose a resolution requesting that Mayor Jorge Elorza and the Providence Board of Licenses create a payment plan option for restaurants and bars looking to renew their liquor licenses for 2021. The resolution is co-sponsored by President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), and Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Rachel Miller (Ward 13), James Taylor (Ward 8), Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), and John Goncalves (Ward 1).
On the first of December each year, any restaurant or bar in the City of Providence with an existing liquor license must apply for a license renewal. This process can cost up to $3,000.00 and is overseen by the Board of Licenses. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upset the economy, this large fee could significantly strain many struggling restaurants and bar owners.
“Providence is home to some of the best restaurants in the region. We have seen several restaurants that have had to close their businesses due to the ongoing pandemic. The trickle-down effect of those closures means residents have lost jobs, owners have lost their livelihoods, and in many cases, their dreams. Further, when a business closes, it creates losses in tax revenue for the City. We need to do what we can to support them. Our city is a destination because of our unique and diverse culinary and bar scene. As City leaders, we need to do whatever we can to ease the financial burdens that they are currently facing. I want to thank Brendan McCaughey, who brought this to our attention, and worked with Council Staff to better understand the needs of our license holders,” stated Council President Matos.
“The City of Providence must follow in the footsteps of our neighbors in Warwick and Pawtucket,” stated Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia. “A liquor license is an integral part of any restaurant or bar operation. As business owners struggle to comply with new guidelines and grapple with financial loss, we must provide avenues for them to remain operational and on sound footing. A phased payment plan will surely help.”
In response to similar challenges, the Cities of Warwick and Pawtucket have already enacted similar plans, allowing license holders to adopt payment plans rather than paying all at once. While the cost will remain the same, this payment plan method aims to make the renewal fee easier to bear.
“It is critical that we take immediate action to support struggling restaurant and bar owners and do what we can to help them remain operational and fluid. This pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and our small business community – including restaurants and bars – have been hit hard. The livelihood of many depend on this relief,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.
Brendan McCaughey, the owner of Nolan’s Pub, stated, “I would like to thank the City Council, in particular, Councilwomen Matos and Miller, for their swift attention to this matter. As the weather turns cold and outdoor seating becomes impractical, many bar and restaurant owners are concerned about how to financially survive the winter. I think I speak for all of my fellow license holders when I say that any payment relief from the City’s license renewal fees will be a tremendous help at a time when some of us desperately need it.”
Upon passage, copies of this resolution will be sent to Mayor Jorge Elorza and the Providence Board of Licenses.