By Matthew Daigle
NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday, March 2, to approve a liquor license and special amusement permit for two Oxford Hills residents looking to reopen the former Tucker’s Music Pub under a new name.
Tucker’s was owned and operated by Al and Anne Mallory from 2011 to Oct. 31, 2016.
Al Mallory, who with his late wife helped attract bands to perform at the pub, said they opened the pub as a way of providing a place for local musicians to perform.
In October, Mallory said, “Everything runs its course and has to come to an end eventually.”
Two months later, Ryan Ricci of Paris appeared before the Planning Board and announced he was looking to reopen the pub under the name 290 Maine, and wanted to make some minor adjustments to the interior.
Ricci and his business partner, Peter Smedberg of Oxford, were at Thursday evening’s meeting to discuss their plans for the building at 290 Main St.
Ricci told the board he was looking to open a fully functioning restaurant and bar/pub in the building.
“Tucker’s had a beer and wine license, but nothing for liquor,” Ricci said. “We’re looking to have a full-functioning bar.”
He said he was looking to host occasional open-mic nights or music performances at the restaurant, and an amusement permit would allow them to host those events.
“I talked with [Fire Chief] Dennis Yates, and he said that if one person gets up and dances on the floor and you don’t have a permit, you’re in trouble,” Ricci said. “I’m just trying to cover everything and make sure our bases are covered.”
Selectman Thomas Curtis asked Ricci if he’s ever had experience operating a restaurant or bar.
Ricci said he has served as a kitchen manager at different locations, and has experience working in diverse kitchens, ranging from Kentucky Fried Chicken to four-star restaurants.
“I’ve seen it all,” he said.
Ricci added that he would make sure that any servers at the restaurant would be “qualified to serve alcohol.”
“I know there’s a whole bunch of alcohol classes that servers have to take about the state laws and overserving,” Ricci said. “Even though we’re a stone’s throw away from Main Street, we want to make sure we have educated people who have worked in the field. We don’t want any problems.”
He said the plan is to open 290 Maine by mid-May, though he clarified that it was a tentative date that could change depending on the amount of work that goes into renovations.
Rural village amendment
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday evening to place a question on whether to amend the town’s Site Plan Review Ordinance on the annual town meeting ballot in June.
At the 2016 annual town meeting, voters approved a 180-day moratorium on such developments in four designated rural villages:
• Swift’s Corner – The area around the four-way intersection of Morse Road, Norway Center Road, Patch Mountain Road and Round the Pond Road.
• Noble’s Corner – The area around the intersection of Greenwood Road and Round the Pond Road.
• Norway Center – The area around the intersection of Norway Center Road and Morrill Road.
• Chapel District – The area around the four-way intersection of Wiley Road, French Road, Dunn Road and Morse Road.
The moratorium does not restrict home-based businesses, as defined in the Site Plan Review Ordinance, residential development or agricultural businesses.
Then-Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman told residents at a 2016 public hearing that the moratorium would give officials time to determine potential impacts of future projects on the area.
Selectmen extended the moratorium in January to give the committee more time to work on the amendments.
During last week’s meeting, Town Manager David Holt told the board that “more people come to the ballot to vote,” but expressed concern that with “no presidential election or anything of that nature,” turnout could be lower than usual.
“I would say we could expect around 300 or 400 people to vote if it were a ballot question,” Holt said. “If the question were decided by a show of hands at the annual town meeting, in recent years, we’ve seen around 100 people show up, give or take.”
Curtis asked Holt if there was any special benefit to having residents vote on the question at the ballot rather than by a show of hands.
“Well, if you vote on the question at the town meeting, it gives more of a chance for debate,” Holt replied. “If put the question on the ballot, the public hearing before the vote becomes much more important.”
Chairman Russell Newcomb said that whenever there’s a choice to vote on question via ballot or by show of hand, “I generally favor it being a ballot question with the hope that more folks will come out and vote on it.”
“I don’t know that I really care either way on this particular question, but I’d like to see as many folks give their input as possible,” he added.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to appoint Alan Coffin as a reserve police officer.
Police Chief Rob Federico said Coffin is a sergeant with the Oxford Police Department and has worked for “20 years or so” in law enforcement.
“He’s also a veteran of the U.S. Army, has a commendation for bravery and a whole lot of certifications,” Federico added. “We’d love to have him here part time for when we have any open shifts.”