Franklin to allow beer, wine in restaurants

Sarah Eames | The Daily StarLeanne Taggart, owner of Two Brothers restaurant in Franklin, takes slices of pizza out of the restaurant oven Thursday. Taggart said she will begin the process of applying for a license to serve beer and wine from the New York State Liquor Authority now that the town of Franklin permits restaurant owners to do so.

FRANKLIN — Voters in the town of Franklin turned out overwhelmingly in favor of allowing the sale and consumption of beer and wine in its restaurants.

The proposition passed Tuesday by a measure of 448 to 169, with more than 72% of voters siding in favor of the law.

Under the new law, which is governed by a provision of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, restaurants are permitted to serve beer and wine — but not liquor — for customers to consume on-premises, or unopened containers for consumption at another location.

“Now we’re getting with the times, maybe,” said Jeffrey Taggart, Franklin town supervisor.

“The people have spoken,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing for the town.”

Taggart said he didn’t hear a lot of resistance to the proposition.

“If that’s an important part of your meal, you can have that now,” Taggart said. “To each their own.”

Taggart’s daughter, Leanne, who owns Two Brothers, one of only two restaurants in town, said she intends to pursue an alcohol license within the coming months.

“We’re just looking to add it to the menu as a beverage option,” Leanne said. “I don’t want it to be a bar. I don’t want the bar scene.”

The establishment must be a “full-service restaurant,” offering a menu of more than just salads and sandwiches, according to the law.

“I think it’ll give people a reason to come out,” Leanne said. “They can just have a beer and a slice of pizza, or a beer and a burger.”

“I think it’ll bring in different people, too,” she continued. “They won’t have to go to Oneonta or Walton or Unadilla.”

Proponents of the law were required to submit a petition with 270 signatures for the proposition to be listed on the town ballot, Leanne said, but organizers garnered more than 300.

Leanne said she campaigned in favor of the proposition last year, but didn’t get enough signatures to make the ballot.

“People in the town were worried about just bars opening up all over the place,” she said.

Until 20 years ago, Franklin remained one of fewer than a dozen dry towns in New York state. Town residents voted in favor of banning the sale and consumption of alcohol in an 1899 referendum, more than two decades before federal Prohibition was implemented with the ratification of the 18th Amendment.

Retail package sales of alcohol were legalized in a proposition on the November 1999 ballot by a measure of 429 to 274, according to town records.

With the legalization of on-site liquor consumption potentially on the town’s horizon, Jeffrey said: “I don’t know if it’s wise, but it’s certainly not needed.”

“The best part about this whole thing is we got the numbers; we got the turnout,” he said.

“With over 1,500 registered voters in the town of Franklin, to get 600 of them on an off-year — that’s incredible,” Jeffrey continued. “We only had town board members on the ballot, and they were all unopposed.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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