A longstanding Gloucester seafood company wants to expand by opening a new restaurant in Danvers, targeting a vacant sports club next to the Hollywood Hits movie theater, a spot visible from Route 128.
There's just one catch: A new Turner's Seafood restaurant will need a liquor license, and Danvers does not have any left to dole out.
The restaurant could create more than 100 jobs, according to its proponents.
"They are very excited about the possibility of coming to Danvers, but that business opportunity, for both Turner's and the town of Danvers, is not possible without a liquor license," Danvers attorney Nancy McCann wrote to the town's selectmen.
Turner's, based in Gloucester at 4 Smith St., is asking Town Meeting to approve home rule legislation seeking another liquor license from the Legislature and governor. The issue is due to come up for a vote at Danvers' Town Meeting tonight.
The liquor license process could take up to a year, said Danvers state Rep. Ted Speliotis, who is House chairman of the committee that makes recommendations on the issuance of liquor licenses.
"Everything would be contingent on receiving that liquor license," said Jim Turner, a member of the family that, aside from Turner's Seafood Market and Fish Fry in Gloucester, also operates Turner's Seafood Grill and Market in Melrose.
The family seafood business traces its roots to 1920. A third generation of Turners has been in the restaurant business since 1994, and they also have been offering seafood wholesale from their Gloucester location since 1989.
Turner said his family is willing to wait for the liquor license approval, and the building's landlord understands that getting a license is a condition of moving forward.
The family's Melrose restaurant seats 175, and while the Danvers location may have just as many seats, Turner does not want the restaurant to become so big it loses its feel of a 1950s New England seafood house. The Danvers restaurant would not have a seafood market like Gloucester's.
Selectmen have recommended favorable action on the article.
State law limits the number of liquor licenses in a community based on population, and Danvers is over its quota. There are 45 establishments in town with liquor licenses, said Town Clerk Joseph Collins, including two, Sawasdee Thai restaurant and McKinnon's Butcher Shop, whose licenses were approved by special legislation. These licenses are not transferable to another location.
It was not too long ago when the town had several liquor licenses that were up for grabs, but since then, other establishments have snapped them up.
Speliotis said the restaurant would be an attractive place that would fill a vacant building and have minimal impact on traffic.
"I think the selectmen summed it up pretty well when they called it a 'win-win' for everybody," he said.
However, obtaining a liquor license from the state is not an easy process. It requires hearings, votes and procedures to make sure the applicant is vetted properly.
"People mortgage their homes to get a license," Speliotis said, "so it should not be easy to get one for free."
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, or vial email at email@example.com.