During a May 22 hearing, the Board of Appeals approved Bittersweet’s application for a special permit that will allow the café and bakery to provide its patrons live entertainment. However, the permit came with a number of conditions that must be met.
According to information provided by Bittersweet owner C.J. Dunne, the live entertainment will take place Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 8-10 p.m. and include low-key acts such as acoustic guitar, poetry readings, DJs and independent movie nights.
“Any music will just be background and allow people to talk,” noted Dunne.
For the last six months, the café has been in the middle of a big transition, moving from its original location at the historic Hopkinton Supply Co. building to its new space next door at 22-24 Main St. In April, the Select Board granted the business a beer and wine license. In the new space, one area will be for patrons to enjoy the café and bakery and the other area will be where the beer and wine will be served.
During the public hearing for the entertainment license, Fire Chief Steve Slaman and Assistant Building Inspector Michael Shepard were asked for their input.
According to the application, the maximum number of individuals permitted in the establishment totals 49. Had that number been 50, along with the alcohol being served and evening entertainment, the business could have been deemed a nightclub and therefore legally would need to be sprinklered.
Slaman stated he had safety concerns because the 49 figure is just one number shy from the maximum capacity. The Main Street building, he explained, is challenging with difficult points of access.
“I would rather have it at 50 people and have to have it sprinklered,” he said.
Shepard reiterated that the building code does state until the number hits 50, a building does not need to be sprinklered.
Dunne told the Board he will train staff in fire safety and a crowd manager will be on staff.
“I’m very aware of fire and crowd safety,” he said.
The board approved the entertainment license with a number of conditions attached, which include the final plan for the interior must be submitted to the Director of Municipal Inspections and the Fire Chief, showing numbered seats that are to be the only customer seating permitted.
In addition, no more than 49 people, including patrons, staff and entertainers, are permitted in the establishment. When the number of entertainers is determined for the evening, an equal number of customer seats are to be removed.
A certified crowd manager must be on site when entertainment is taking place, and no designated area for dancing is allowed. Other conditions concern lighting, sound, arrangement of tables, seating design, hours of operation, and types of entertainment permitted.
Bittersweet has been closed since December. During the hearing, Dunne stated he’s very eager to reopen his business and is hoping for a date of June 20.