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Haverhill

September 27, 2012

Restaurants get break from new deck-drinking rules

Rule changed to weekends-only after eateries complained it would hurt them financially

HAVERHILL — Five city restaurants have won some relief from a new rule that required them to assign a worker to exclusively watch customers drinking alcohol on outside decks every night - a mandate several of the businesses complained was unfair and would hurt them financially.

Under a modification approved this week by the city’s License Commission, the restaurants must still monitor deck patrons with a dedicated employee at their busiest times — 9 p.m. to closing Fridays and Saturdays and the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.

The original rule required the restaurants to monitor decks with a worker from 7 p.m. to closing every day.

The issue of drinking alcohol on decks came up as a result of an Aug. 25 accident in which a 26-year-old man who was drinking alcohol was seriously injured when he toppled backward off a second-story deck at Hans Garden on Washington Street.

Police said Matthew McKay of Methuen spent three days in a Boston hospital and suffered three cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and a sprained ankle after falling from the roughly 10-foot-high structure overlooking the Merrimack River.

Tony Hans, owner of the Chinese food restaurant, has been cited by police for failing to provide a safe environment for patrons and selling or delivering alcohol to McKay after he was already intoxicated. A punishment hearing for Hans is scheduled for the commission’s Oct. 11 meeting.

“I acted hastily (two weeks ago) in proposing that it start at 7 and be every day,” License Commission Chairman Joseph Edwards said of the new deck rule. “I know there’s a lot fewer people using the decks when the weather gets colder, and I’m sure no one is even out there drinking on some nights.”

Restaurants with permission to allow patrons to drink alcohol on their deck include Hans Garden, the Tap Brewhouse and the Lasting Room on Washington Street, Mr. Mike’s Restaurant and Lounge on Main Street, and Archie’s Ale House in Lafayette Square.

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