Maplewood restaurant scene is booming, but city running out of liquor licenses

Maplewood's city council plans to increase the number of liquor licenses for restaurants. (Credit: KMOV)

The restaurant scene in Maplewood is booming and while that is a good thing but it brings with it a small problem. The city is running out of liquor licenses for restaurants that hope to open.

There is much anticipation for Elmwood, a new restaurant from Niche Food Group alums Chris Kelling and Adam Altnether that opens this year. And now, restaurateur Ben Poremba has plans to open a new restaurant in the former Water Street location on Manchester.

“We can tell you it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be a small intimate space,” said Poremba.

The chef and owner behind restaurants like Olio and Nixta is tight lipped on the concept and food for the new restaurant but paperwork filed with the city list the name as The Benevolent King.

The hope is a late March opening date.

Water Street closed last month and Poremba said he loved the space.

“It’s a beautiful space, we’re doing some changes but not a lot,” he said.

Neighboring restaurant owner Ryan Reel says the more the merrier when it comes to restaurants in Maplewood.

“It makes us even more of a destination,” said Reel who opened Tapped, a beer and pizza joint, with his wife last spring.

The city says there’s room for more restaurants but they have to make some changes.

“We need to increase the number of restaurant licenses for the future,” said Martin Corcoran, Maplewood’s City Manager.

Corcoran is presenting the city council with a plan to increase the number of liquor licenses for restaurants. Right now, it is one license for every 200 residents, which gives them 41 licenses. The plan presented to city council would increase the licenses to 53, one for every 150 residents and making more of them go towards restaurants.

“I think there would be pushback if we were issuing licenses bar or tavern where food wasn’t sold, but that’s not the case,” said Corcoran.

Residents told News 4 that the only issue they had was the impact on traffic and parking. The city says there’s not much they can do about parking but they are working to slow traffic down, especially on residential streets.

But families like the Horton’s said they moved to Maplewood for the diversity, walkability and the small business vibes.

“The restaurant scene is pretty epic,” said Liza Horton.

One that is only expected to get better.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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