Some smaller eating establishments may soon be able serve alcohol in the Town of Huntington.
The town board is considering amending its definition of food shop to make such establishments eligible to serve alcohol for on-site consumption. Currently food shop establishments are banned from such service under town zoning code. The change would make town code consistent with state law, which allows "food shops" to serve alcohol.
"This would allow smaller businesses to keep patrons on their premises longer, increasing their opportunity to generate revenue from the consumption of food and beverages," Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said in an email.
A food shop in town code is defined as any retail establishment that has parking at the rate of one space per 200 square feet of gross floor area and whose function is to provide prepared food for public consumption, with seating for no more than 15 patrons at a time including but not limited to sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza, bagels, doughnuts, and ice cream, as well as prepackaged foodstuffs.
The new definition would drop the language on the prohibition of drinking alcoholic beverages on site.
Town officials said as town code currently reads, the zoning classification disallowed food shops from serving alcohol which is in violation of state law because the town does not have the authority to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages through zoning.
Food shop owners will still have to get approval from the state to serve alcohol.
Town officials said the code change was suggested by local businesses.
Jack Palladino, president of the Huntington Village Business Improvement District, said if the law is not abused, for example, by a smaller eatery using the change to open a nightclub, this could be a positive move.
"People are having a tough time, struggling with business, there’s so many places that are going out that might be the leg up they need to stay in business," Palladino said.