Bloomfield Township Grants Liquor Licenses for Maple Theater, Bagger Dave's
However, only ticket holders will be served at the iconic theater under a six-month contract provision imposed by township officials.
Fans of the Maple Theater will be able to drink alcohol there when it reopens after renovations this fall, but they'll need a movie ticket to do it.
The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday approved a Class C liquor license for the 37-year-old art theater's new ownership, with the caveat that only movie patrons will be served. The provision can be removed by the township after six months of operations. The 'probationary' clause was the final issue needed to resolve months of negotiations over site plans, zoning variances and business operations. And it nearly stopped the entire project from moving forward.
With Trustee David Buckley absent, the six-member board deadlocked on two different proposals to approve the license, essentially killing the effort. The board approved it 5-1 on the third vote after Township Attorney Bill Hampton and the attorney for new owner Jon Goldstein met outside the board chambers to discuss the contract provision. Building on a revised liquor license policy passed earlier in the meeting, Township Treasurer Dan Devine cast the lone opposing vote because he said that once granted, a liquor license can be difficult to revoke.
Earlier in the meeting, he and other board members raised concerns about the potential for the Maple to become a place for people to congregate and drink, and that the township would have few options to stop it. Goldstein, a township resident who took over ownership of the theater's lease in February, said he was concerned about imposing a ticket requirement on patrons.
Under his business plan — which includes a cafe and open lobby area where people can meet and socialize — Goldstein said there could be situations where people may want to share a drink or have one with dessert, but not necessarily see a film.
"It's a limitation on customers, and that's where I'm feeling very uncomfortable," he said. "I understand what the township is trying to avoid, but I don't believe we'll create the issues that the township considers could happen."
He argued that the bar is less than 1 percent of the total theater-dedicated space and that it is a small, but crucial part of the business model he envisions to keep the Maple viable for years to come. Goldstein said he plans to close the theater next month for extensive renovations.
The contract with Goldstein also imposes a two-drink maximum; prohibits alcohol on the patio and in theaters with G-rated movies, and limits sales until after 3 p.m. on weekdays and noon on weekends.
Township taxpayer and Patch blogger Marcia Robovitsky was the only member of the public to speak on the topic and voiced her opposition to both the measure and how the township assesses liquor license applications.
Bagger Dave's Coming This Fall
Prior to the Maple Theater debate, the board unanimously approved a Class C liquor license to Bagger Dave's Burger Tavern. The restaurant will occupy 6,100 square feet where GNC Vitamin and Pink Pump shoe store were toward the center of Bloomfield Plaza, located at the southwest corner of Telegraph and Maple Roads. Renovations will be ongoing all summer with late September as the target opening. Once open, the restaurant will have 172 seats, including 10 at a bar located toward the back of the establishment. It will also have retractable windows facing the parking lot that are screened on an interior patio.
Township officials said it was a suitable alternative to the outdoor seating that was initially proposed, which would have created a traffic-safety issue and required a special use permit. Resident Lisa Long was the only member of the public to address the board on the issue and encouraged trustees to reject the proposal.
"We have enough liquor in the community, and a that intersection, it adds nothing but risk," she said. "It will attract all young people that will be able to drink, and that's a bad combination."
Michael Ansley, president of the franchise's parent company, Diversified Restaurant Holdings, said the bar will have eight taps that serve Michigan-crafted beers and that a wine list and some liquor will also be available. He said he anticipated alcohol to make up just about 15 percent of their overall business, which is geared toward serving families at both lunch and dinner.
Township Treasurer Dan Devine said he understood and shared many of Long's concerns, but that township has to find a balance between maintaining Bloomfield's "bedroom-community" feel while providing the amenities that residents want close by.
The restaurant will be the chain's seventh in Michigan, but the only one with enough space to house a 'test' kitchen, where employees will be trained and new products will be developed for customers to try, Ansley said. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.