Need2Know: Coppertop Alehouse gets extended liquor license for sidewalk patio on South Montezuma
Sets new precedent for downtown restaurants, pubs, shops on Prescott’s south side
Editor’s Note — Need2Know deviates from its regular format this week to bring you a precedent-setting change for downtown Prescott.
To a degree, Coppertop Alehouse owner Scott Whitney fought the law, and he won.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Whitney’s 3-year-old craft brewery/eatery, 220 S. Montezuma St., received a Series 3, permanent liquor license from the City of Prescott, which allows him to serve beer on his fenced-off sidewalk patio.
“When we first started getting the patio out there over Labor Day weekend , there were so many people who walked by and said, ‘Oh my God! This is so gorgeous. This is so cute. We didn’t even know you were here,’” Whitney said Aug. 14. “So, exposure was just huge.”
In 2016, Whitney and his wife, Marie, started the process of challenging a city ordinance that does not allow alcohol to be served within 300 feet of a school. In this case, it’s Prescott Mile High Middle School.
As it turned out, after he had met with a lawyer, the mayor and the city manager, Whitney learned that state law exempts craft breweries from the city’s 300-foot rule.
A year ago, the City Council established an entertainment district downtown along South Montezuma, which allows alcohol to be served.
Business owners along South Montezuma, or “SoMo,” as Whitney refers to it, formed an alliance to push for more outdoor seating space to enliven the atmosphere and lure more visitors to their locations.
“This German-style outdoor seating gives you a good look at the courthouse [plaza] and it will be great on Acker Night [the annual door-to-door December music festival downtown],” Whitney said.
Whitney’s European-style seating has a wood fence around it and umbrellas overhead. And although the patio juts out onto a city sidewalk, it doesn’t extend far enough to inhibit pedestrians. Jason Orifice, Whitney’s landlord, later learned that the city favored patio seating on SoMo.
But there was a problem. The city had no procedure for business owners who wanted to build patios on public spaces, such as a sidewalk. In other words, no license existed for a private enterprise to do business on public property. Whitney settled for what’s termed “temporary permanent construction.”
“This fence could be knocked down if there needed to be a major street improvement or sidewalk replacement, as opposed to if we installed concrete pillars,” Whitney said.
Ultimately, Whitney received licensed permission from the city for the fence and a liquor license that allows alcohol to be served from the front door of the alehouse and out onto a public right of way, which the state approved.
Now, the door is open for SoMo restaurants/pubs next door to the alehouse, including Rickety Cricket (Series 6 liquor license; full bar), and This Dude’s Food and Atmesfir, to build similar outdoor seating areas.
If this happens, Whitney would like to see the patio spots interconnected so customers could move freely among the establishments. That would require a Series 12 liquor license, however. He can cross that bridge if or when he comes to it.
Nevertheless, Whitney credited Orifice and Joe Lohmeier, the former owner of Rickety Cricket, for helping to push for improvements, like the entertainment district, on SoMo.
“I’m really excited that the City of Prescott is being progressive about the revitalization of the South Montezuma area,” Whitney added.
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