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Tea House Pouring License Goes to Wednesday's Special Town Meeting

There will be a Special Town Meeting on Wednesday night in Wenham, where one of three warrant articles will ask voters to begin to initiate a legislative petition for a pouring license for a new restaurant operator at the Wenham Tea House.

Voters at Wenham’s on Wednesday night will decide whether to pursue a pouring license for what the owners of the say is essential to seal the deal with a new restaurant operator.

The name of the new business has not been publicly announced but the owner will be at Town Meeting to answer any questions, said Barbara Locke, president of the Wenham Village Improvement Society, which owns the Tea House.

The new tenant “wants a pouring license to enhance his business,” Locke said, without revealing the operator, who she said is a local company with name recognition. “This is such a perfect fit for the community.”

But not having a liquor license could jeopardize the company’s move to reopen the Tea House’s restaurant, Locke said.

If everything proceeds as planned, “we’re hoping he is open by the end of April,” Locke said.

The plan is to serve breakfast and lunch, plus special dinners along with wine tastings, scotch and sirloin dinners, cigar sampling and mixology classes plus brunch, she said.

“His plan is to never leave,” Locke said.

The license would be required to be associated with a restaurant operation with 99 seats or less.

The Town Meeting vote is the first step in what is likely a four to six month legislative petition process that will require the approval of the Legislature and signature of Gov. Deval Patrick, according to Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren.

The previous restaurant at the Tea House, operated by Emma Roberts, . She returned to running her Stoneham-based catering company, Capers Catering. There was a package store license at the Tea House, but the Wenham Village Improvement Society gave up that license because the new operator wants a pouring license instead.

Before the package store license, the Tea House started with a pouring license. More than a year ago, it switched to a package store license.

"We're going back to what Town meeting voted on initially," Locke said.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last week to support the article.

Locke estimated that the meeting will not last longer than 15 minutes and the WVIS is rallying its 300 members to attend the meeting.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium at . A quorum of 56 voters is required to conduct Town Meeting business.

Also on the Town Meeting warrant are two other items – one to transfer money from an insurance payout back into the reserve account to cover the $24,231 paid to replace the police chief’s cruiser, which was totaled by a fallen tree in the October snowstorm.

The other is to transfer $34,700 into the water fund to cover unforeseen costs, mostly from the costs from in recent months, according to Chelgren.

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