A proposal to open a restaurant with a microbrewery and bar on Main Street met little opposition last night at a public hearing before the Annapolis city council.
Bay Brewing Co.'s plan for a casual restaurant with gourmet cuisine and microbrewery at 193-A Main St. received support from the city Planning Commission and Ward One Residents Association.
The fact that the proposed restaurant and brewery would be considerably smaller than the only other microbrewery in town -- the Ram's Head Tavern in the first block of West St. -- was a selling point for its supporters.
"When we first heard about this we envisioned something on the scale of the Ram's Head," said Gilbert T. Renaut, president of Ward One Association, a watchdog for the Historic District. "We were very concerned about allowing anything resembling a beer factory on Main Street.
"But [the applicant] convinced us that our fears were somewhat misguided," Renaut said. "We support the application."
An endorsement also came from Richard Hillman, chairman of the city Planning Commission, who said: "While we were not tremendously impressed with the need [for a microbrewery] we wholeheartedly endorse this application."
The business will take up 2,080 square feet and provide seating for about 75 patrons. Bay Brewing -- which will produce about 177 barrels of beer annually -- will have limits imposed by the city on how much alcohol it can sell and 50 percent of its income must come from food sales, said Jon Arason, director of the city's planning and zoning department.
"There is a concern among upper Main Street business people that it is hard to bring people up [to shop on] Main Street," Arason said. "There is no big attraction. [Bay Brewing] could expand the customer base of other businesses located there."
City officials say the coming of the proposed restaurant and brewery, along with other businesses that are opening on Main Street, is a good sign for the downtown business district, which has been plagued by empty storefronts in recent years. A cigar shop will open on Main Street in about two weeks, and the Maryland State Teachers Association began moving into its new headquarters last week.
Historic district resident Richard Haefner attended last night's meeting to testify in support of the application. "I remember when the Ram's Head was a gleam in someone's eye," he said. "I was very excited about it. It could have easily opened up in Parole instead of West Street. I can't see why this Bay Brewing Co. couldn't do the same thing for Main Street."
In other matters, aldermen heard from Public Works Director John Patmore on the city's snow removal plan and from BES XTC Partnership on its application for a conditional use permit for live music and entertainment at the 49 West Street Coffeehouse and Bar.
Pub Date: 11/26/96