Patrons of the Maple Theater will have to wait just a little longer to learn whether they can sip on a glass of wine or a frothy Michigan brew while enjoying their movies.
The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday decided to table an application for a Class C liquor license at the theater, known for its artistic and independent films. The decision came just two weeks after the board voted to allow a zoning variance for the property just west of Telegraph Road that would make a liquor license possible.
Township Treasurer Dan Devine raised concerns at that time about an outdated township liquor-license policy, and said some remained Monday. He commended the board for taking a deliberate look and trying to establish a contract that has standards in place with the applicant before the matter is considered again on June 25.
Though there is nothing specific he or others said they see as a barrier to granting the license, Devine said that the board sought some clearer understanding of what kind of alcohol will be served and how.
"Hopefully, we'll have something hammered out by then because a verbal agreement doesn't cut it," Devine said. "It's easier to enforce if it's in a contract, so that even if things change, you've got some teeth."
Both Devine and Supervisor Leo Savoie said the township is making progress on updating a liquor-license policy as 11 total remain available within the township borders. Three other applications are pending, including one for the proposed Bagger Dave's Burger Tavern in the Bloomfield Plaza.
What's the Plan?
Under the new ownership of Bloomfield Township resident Jon Goldstein, the theater is set for a major renovation that should begin late next month. The theaters will be expanded and have state-of-the-art screens and systems, however, seating will decrease from 900 to 700 among the three theaters.
That benefits the customer by allowing room for larger, more comfortable seats, Goldstein said. And the front entrance will now be closer to the parking lot, reducing a typically long walk from behind the theater.
The liquor license is an innovation that can enhance the moviegoing experience for customers with an average age of 65, not exactly an audience that craves candy and soda, Goldstein said. He intends to sell wine and Michigan-made micro-brews from a improved concessions area with seating, but it will not have a bar feel. Well drinks will not be served, but premium liquors will be available.
Goldstein told township officials that beer and wine sales are traditionally about 80 percent of their alcohol sales, with premium liquors comprising the final 20 percent. It will help drive profits, but is not as significant a part of the new theater's business plan as a cafe, revamped theaters, and continued commitment to the films that have made the Maple a special place for nearly four decades.
"The Maple is the anomaly," Goldstein told the board. "It's one of those places that just kept working no matter what it is, but to last another 37, years it needs to change with the times."
Goldstein has experience operating movie theaters with liqour licenses in Rochester Hills, Wyandotte and Pennsylvania. The Bloomfield Township Police Department recommended issuing the license after their background investigation found no significant problems. According to their report, in the other theaters, Goldstein put all employees through extensive alcohol management training whether they are an alcohol server or not.
The businesses use a wristband system and if a customer wishes to purchase alcohol, he or she is checked through a computer before a wristband is issued. The wristband then allows them to purchase two drinks, and is "notched" with each alcohol purchase. The wristband is made of a fluorescent material that is visible in the dark.