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Bars and breweries in Portland change licenses to circumvent state restrictions

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Four businesses in Portland––Novare Res, Sagamore Hill Lounge, Tomaso’s Canteen, and Rising Tide Brewing––have acquired restaurant licenses that will allow them to reopen earlier, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Under Governor Janet Mills’ reopening plan, bars and tasting rooms in Androscoggin, York, and Cumberland counties are not allowed to open until July 1. Restaurants in these counties, however, were permitted to begin outdoor service on June 1. 

While the Portland businesses were all previously licensed as Class A lounges, they are now licensed as restaurants. Rising Tide Brewery was issued a Class III & IV license while the other three businesses were issued Class XI licenses. The respective annual costs of these licenses in Portland are $906.00 and $2,326.00 (additional fees notwithstanding).  

As licensed restaurants, the businesses must ensure that a portion of their revenue comes from food sales. To meet license requirements, Rising Tide Brewing is partnering with Fire and Company to sell pizza and donuts while Sagamore Hill Lounge is collaborating with Ada’s pasta and pizza bar in Portland.   

Sagamore Hill is opening for patio service on June 10 while Rising Tide Brewery opened on June 5 and Tomaso’s Canteen on June 2. Novare Res has yet to announce when it will reopen. 

The move to change licenses sends a message to Gov. Mills, who has faced criticism for allowing restaurants to open sooner than bars and breweries, that businesses will simply buy their way to earlier reopenings, even with state-mandated restrictions. It also highlights the arbitrary nature of scheduling the reopening of restaurants, bars and breweries by liquor license classification. 

Bars and tasting rooms in the other 13 counties are slated to begin outdoor service on June 12.

About Isabelle Christie

Isabelle Christie is a senior at Marist College pursuing a degree in history and minors in communication and writing. She is currently serving as Maine Policy Institute’s summer 2020 communications intern.

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