Licensing Board Grants Crane River Cheese Club Beer-and-Wine License

Crane River Cheese Club, a Cambridge Street specialty grocery store, has been granted a beer-and-wine license by the city’s Licensing Board, according to Tom Clemens, co-chair of the Beacon Hill Civic Association Zoning and Licensing Committee.

The business, located at 138  Cambridge St., Unit 2, opened last summer and is owned and operated by Chef Brian Poe and Nick Giannotti, the same duo behind the restaurant next door, The Tip Tap Room at 138 Cambridge St. Crane River Cheese Club offers a full selection of  “chef-curated” groceries for takeout and delivery, including specialty meat, seafood, produce, pastas, oils, and pantry ingredients, such as specialty meats; seasonally sources cheeses; and vegetables and specialty herbs sourced from local organic farms, along with daily sandwich and salad specials.

Crane River Cheese Club on Cambridge Street.

The owners of Crane River Cheese Club are planning to sell a selection of “hard-to-find,” specialty beer and wines to complement their food offerings, which would be available for both pickup and delivery, said Clemens, who likened the applicant’s request to what Kured, the takeout charcuterie shop at 83 Charles St., now offers with beer and wine to go as an added amenity for patrons.

The Retail Package Store Wines and Malt Beverages License granted to Crane River Cheese Club applies to 750 square feet in the first floor retail area, including the counter and prep area, as well as to the basement for storage, with no alcoholic beverages sold after 11 p.m., according to the Licensing Board agenda for the March 8 virtual hearing, when the  application was heard.

This matter was also discussed during the Zoning and Licensing Committee’s monthly meeting on March 1 at 74 Joy St. At this time, the committee heard no objections to Crane River Cheese Club’s request from either of the owner of two nearby liquor stores on Cambridge Street, or from the owners of vinodivino, the small liquor store located in Charles River Plaza, said Clemens. Several neighbors were “highly supportive” of the existing Crane River Cheese Club operation, as well as of its application for a beer-and-wine license, he said.

Clemens said that the owners of Crane River Cheese Club had also expressed their willingness to enter into a “good neighbor agreement” with the Civic Association, which would prohibit the sales of “nips” or single cans of beer that would be “attractive to the ambient population that has caused problems for neighbors.”

While the agreement wouldn’t specify that beer and wine must be sold only in conjunction with food products, Giannotti indicated that the store’s ownership expects this would be the case, especially in light of the high prices to be charged for such beverages, added Clemens.

Likewise, Chef Poe indicated that food sales now account for two-thirds of The Tip Tap Room’s business, compared to one-third for alcohol, and that they were expecting a “similar ratio” for Crane River Cheese Club once the business begins selling beer and wine, said Clemens.

While the conditions of Licensing Board granting the beer-and-wine license don’t limit its use to the current business operator, Clemens said the intention is to make the good neighbor agreement “as ironclad as possible so as not to end up with a loose license at that location.” The owners of Crane River Cheese Club also said that business has so far exceeded their expectations, added Clemens, and that they expect to remain in the neighborhood for a long time.

Although the Licensing Board had approved the beer-and-wine license for Crane River Cheese Club on March 8, the Civic Association board of directors voted unanimously to ratify the Zoning and Licensing Committee’s vote of non-opposition on the application at the board’s monthly meeting on Monday, March 13, at 74 Joy St.

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