Bar owners hope to sell alcohol on sidewalks

The new owners of The Bourgeois Pig could help break ground for downtown bar owners hoping for permission to sell beer and booze on the sidewalks of the city’s central business district.

At least that’s what Jerry Neverve is counting on.

“I’ve been trying to get an outdoor dining area for years – ever since the smoking ban started,” said Neverve, owner of Red Lyon Tavern, 944 Mass. “We’ll see what happens.”

That’s where The Bourgeois Pig comes in. The coffee shop and bar at 6 E. Ninth St. needs permission from Lawrence city commissioners to keep operating as it has been for nine years: serving drinks, including alcohol, that can be consumed within a defined area on the sidewalk in front of the business.

Because the Pig doesn’t meet city code for such a license – the business doesn’t make at least 70 percent of its revenue from food sales – Ryan Pope and his business partner need the city’s blessing to continue. The owners say they had no idea, when they bought the place this year, that they couldn’t serve alcohol outside.

Now, because nobody’s complained about the sidewalk drinking and Pope has been upfront and helpful in seeking city cooperation, City Clerk Frank Reeb is recommending that the Pig keep its license.

Commissioners will consider the issue during Tuesday’s commission meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

“What we’re trying to do is be reasonable,” City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said. “In this particular case, it’s a long-established business that’s been an enhancement to the area. I would really hate to put them in jeopardy.”

Neverve and David Johanning, owner and manager of The Sandbar, see their situations as reasonable, too. Neverve wants to make room for as many as 20 people to smoke and drink outside his place. Johanning finally would be able to put ashtrays outside.

City Manager David Corliss said that while the Pig’s license would be up for approval Tuesday, other issues could be discussed as well.

“Maybe we should see this as a pilot project, and that’s fine,” he said. “But we still have concerns. Maybe The Bourgeois Pig is showing us that we don’t need to have those concerns. I don’t know.”