Saquatucket Snack Shack Liquor License Prompts Debate

HARWICH – Selectmen in Harwich approved a seasonal wine and malt beverage license last week for the new snack shack at Saquatucket Harbor after some debate.

Dockside Seafood was awarded a lease of up to ten years to operate the snack shack after being the only bidder.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of the license despite concerns from Selectman Michael MacAskill regarding the 80 seat serving area sought in the request.

“It looks to me almost double the amount of space from what the RFP went out to the general public for,” MacAskill said.

He was also concerned that there had been no review by the Planning Board on an 80-seat serving area.

Town Administrator Christopher Clark said the planning board reviewed the entire Saquatucket Harbor landside project.

Selectman Donald Howell dissented along with MacAskill.

“I was not in favor of the lease anyway because I was not understanding why there wasn’t competition for this and that there was a sole bidder,” Howell said.

Leasee Joesph Griffiths says he would not have responded to the RFP if he could not obtain the license.

“I’m a CPA. I’m a back of the house guy. I know numbers and I know what it takes to make something work,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said he was dismayed that there was an issue with the license request and said it was based on the architectural drawings that were included in the RFP.

“I thought I was making an investment in the community that everyone would be proud of,” Griffiths said.

He said he has invested $80,000 and is planning to spend another $20,000.

“I did that on good faith of the lease,” Griffiths said.

He said his initial proposal said he would not be interested if there was no beer and wine license.

The town granted a 5 year lease, with the option for five additional years. The time frame is longer than the traditional three year lease.

This was attributed the sizable investment needed to be made to furnish the kitchen.

The lease is accompanied by either seven percent of the gross annual receipts or $24,000. If renewed after five years, those numbers increase to eight percent of gross annual receipts or 32,000 dollars.

The strict food requirements required by the town were also brought up as a deterrent for possible bidders.

Dockside Seafood will be required to offer lobster rolls, clam chowder, various fried foods, hot dogs, burgers, bacon, sausage, eggs, sandwiches, healthy low calorie options, cold and hot drinks, and ice cream.

The snack shack is hoping to be open by May 31st.

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