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Portsmouth Coffee Shop Seeks Liquor License

Custom House Coffee, with locations in Portsmouth and Middletown, and a soon-to-open shop in Fall River, MA, are seeking to serve alcohol at its Clock Tower Square location.

One Portsmouth coffee shop is seeking to add shots other than espresso to its menu. 

The owners of , which celebrated its 10th business anniversary last Friday, want to serve alcohol at its Portsmouth shop. The store's owners are seeking to secure a liquor license for the King Charles Drive and West Main Road location. 

However, the across the street might prevent establishing a liquor license at this shop. State law prohibits any establishment to serve liquor within 200 feet of a church. 

In a mailing sent to customers this week, the owners say the interest in a liquor license is a reaction to the "poor economy." 

"Unfortunately, we have not been immune to the poor economy over the past few years," writes Custom House owners George Doumaney, Mark Libby and Robert Mastin. 

"It has been a real struggle to survive in this environment. For this reason we need to diversify a bit in order to attract more business. 

"One way to boost business is to get a liquor license in order to offer more choices for our customers." 

The shop's owners say they wish to offer different types of drinks, such as "Irish Lattes" and "Espresso Martinis." 

Custom House Coffee currently operates shops in Middletown and Portsmouth, with a third shop to open this summer in Fall River, MA. The since last year. 

[Corrected at 10:40 a.m.] A Custom House Coffee in East Greenwich, which closed earlier this year, got a liquor license in July 2011.

Portsmouth shop owners are seeking customers' approval for the new additions. Attached to the mailing sent this week is a request to sign a petition in support of the liquor license. 

"...However, many of you have adopted the coffee house as your own and will be alarmed at any changes to the business. Be assured that we have no intention of changing the look and feel of the coffee house as a family friendly place," writes the owners. 

Also attached to the mailing is an explanation of the state law, which prohibits establishments from serving alcohol within 200 feet of a church. According to the owners, the distance between property lines is 110 feet. 

The coffee shop's owners hope to gather signatures and present the petition to the state legislature for exemption from the state law. The Portsmouth Town Council would also need to approve this liquor license. 

To view the full letter sent to customers, see the pdf at right. 

Custom House Coffee is located in Clock Tower Square development, a nine-acres parcel containing 92,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space. The coffee shop is also located near the King Charles' residential development and down the street from . 

A neighborhood meeting to address questions or concerns will also be held on Tuesday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. at Custom House Coffee. 

faithful reader May 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I go there on occasion when one of my children has some art on display. I commend them for displaying local art! While there I will get a coffee & a pastry. However it would be nice if the entrance were more accessible. I have bad knees and am unsteady climbing stairs and there isn't even a hand rail to hold on to. When I do want a morning coffee, I make it a point to get out of my car and walk into the Dunc, I stopped once when CC had first opened, that was my last morning visit.
ralph May 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I just don't see how adding liquor to their establishment will increase their business. As I stated above, it is a very cozy spot to enjoy a cup of joe to your liking. However, I can only see a very small amount of profit being generated by adding alcohol. Enjoying say a glass of wine, while listening to some guitar playing sounds like a relaxing time, but as to it increasing revenue? Well I just don't see it. Put an addition onto it and change it to a night club. If your going to aquire a liquor license, heck why not got all out. Coffee house by day, dance club by night. A new concept in coffee houses. Profits will boom.
Shui May 17, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I absolutely love getting a fabulous coffee and relaxing in this beautiful coffee house..why not? Sometimes getting out of your car and meeting people is worth it...I have never had this experience at a D.D. and to be honest..D.D. coffee is IMHO lame. The coffee is ten times better and worth an extra buck and a tip to the always smiling gregarious folk behind the counter. Why not a liquor? Give the small business man a chance..to try something new.Support them. <3
Island Porkrunner May 17, 2012 at 02:43 PM
the price seems fair to me - we just never go to West Main Rd.
Christine May 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
If the poor economy is affecting them so much how can they afford to build another coffee house in Fall River? The problem isn't so much with them getting the license now, the problem is down the road when they change the plan and do more than just serve "Irish Lattes" or worse, decide to sell the place. A liquor license makes it that much more attractive to a potential buyer who wants to turn it into a bar.


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