Assembly Theatre, other town venues can now serve alcohol

Inside Burrillville's Assembly Theater

BURRILLVILLE– If you want to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer while you take in some hometown entertainment, you will soon be in luck.

The Town Council approved changes this week to the law banning open containers alcohol to make exceptions for certain events, and allow the sale of libations.

The updates, passed unanimously this week, apply to several town-owned properties including the Assembly Theatre and grounds, the Stillwater Pavilion and grounds, Beckwith-Bruckshaw Memorial Lodge, The Champlin Building at Spring Lake and the Legion Hall.

The change was prompted, in part, by efforts to revitalize the Assembly Theatre and to make the venue competitive with other local stops for entertainment.

“We’re in competition with the Bradley theater and the Stadium Theatre, which allow alcohol,” said Councilor Stephen Rawson, who serves on the theater’s governing Board of Administration and has been working with the new non-profit Patrons of the Assembly to bring life to the venue.

“I would say that it is a very good idea to incorporate the sale of alcoholic beverages at the Assembly Theatre,” said Holly Dumaine-Picard, a member of the Patrons. “It’s generally a mellow thing to serve alcohol at that type of venue.”

Plus, she noted, most similar venues make the majority of their money through concessions and bar sales.

Under the new rules, covered in Chapter 16-2 in the town’s Code of Ordinances, those renting the town properties for events must gain Town Council approval to serve alcohol, and meet all other requirements that already apply in town code, such as securing entertainment licenses if needed. The town currently allows private parties to rent many of the properties, but alcoholic beverages are expressly prohibited.

Non-profits can apply for a Class F license to serve the drinks themselves, while other event sponsors must obtain the services of a licensed Class P caterer. The rules, developed by the town’s Ordinance Subcommittee, require that sponsors have a contract with the venue’s managing authority, and obtain liquor liability insurance.

“I think you did a great job putting this together, and Steve’s right, it’s what the Assembly needs,” said resident Peggy Dudley of Rawson. “When I read the rules and regulations I said, ‘they’ve got everything covered.'”

“It will put the Assembly Theatre on a level playing field with our local competition,” said Councilor Donald Fox.

The rules lay out the specifics of alcohol sales, prohibiting glass containers, cans and bottles, and dictating that beverages can only be served two at a time, and not to visibly intoxicated individuals.

“One of the things I like is we take things on a case by case basis,” said Councilor Jeremy Bailey. “What it’s not intended to do is turn it into any kind of drunken party night.”

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