WINTER HARBOR — The Gallery, a bar and lounge that will be taking up shop at 361 Main St., was unanimously given the green light to operate with a liquor license from the town’s Board of Selectmen following a public hearing Tuesday night.
Sarah and Jesse Christensen, owners of The Pickled Wrinkle in Birch Harbor, own the Main Street building and were present to answer questions from abutters and community members. The couple’s friend, Troy Lorenz, will be operating the establishment, which the Christensens said is slated to open June 1.
“I think [The Gallery] would be a wonderful addition to the town,” board Chairwoman Kylie Bragdon said.
Those in attendance were mainly concerned with noise and parking.
“It’s not going to be a rowdy bar,” Jesse said. He said the goal of the seasonal business is to offer upscale food and drink and “preserve the building as much as possible.”
The historic building was previously home to The Art Gallery for several years and was a civil defense building during World War I, according to the bar’s Facebook page.
Jesse estimated the space would offer 30 seats maximum, with about 12 bar seats. The couple are figuring out what the small kitchen space can accommodate but are anticipating starting by offering tacos.
The hours of operation will be about 3 to 10 p.m., with the couple calling Lorenz a respectful business owner and neighbor.
“I wouldn’t let anyone else just run this place,” Sarah said.
With the topic of parking being a long-standing issue for Main Street business owners, those in attendance asked the Christensens to follow an unofficial agreement that business owners not occupy street parking spots in the height of the tourist season.
The board, responding to public comment, also discussed getting more signage to notify tourists of the town’s public parking lot.
Selectman Kittridge Rivers explained that the town is waiting on paving bids, with repaving needing to happen in a few locations before signs can be added.
Another important topic regarding the town’s tourist industry was raised — the decision whether to hold the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival — which will be taken up at the board’s May 10 meeting.
The large event and tourist attraction, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, has been going on for over five decades. The August event features a craft fair, entertainment and lobster dinner.
In other business, the board approved the town’s 2021-22 budget of $1,998,460, which includes the school budget and county taxes. The budget will go before voters for final approval at Town Meeting in June.
Town Manager Cathy Carruthers reported that the budget is higher than last year’s, but the amount to be collected from taxpayers, which is roughly $1.7 million, has decreased. This is due to increases in town revenues, including increased revenues from vehicle excise taxes. She said the mill rate may stay roughly the same at .0104, or $10.40 per every $1,000 of assessed value.