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Saugus residents split 50/50 over proposed liquor store

The owner of Bacci's Pizzeria wants to open a wine and spirits shop next door to his pizza shop but Nasty Nonni's Wine & Spirits across the street is opposed. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SAUGUS — A new beer and wine store is opening next to Bacci’s Pizzeria, but neighbors have mixed feelings about it.

The new shop, Lisa’s Beer & Wine, will be run by Elie Youssef, who owns both Bacci’s and Charlie’s Pizzeria across from Saugus Town Hall. Youssef also owns the plaza at 4 Howard St., where the shop will open.

“I feel that beer and wine next to a place that sells takeout food, I feel, is a convenience,” said Selectwoman Jennifer D’Eon, who added that the first liquor store to ever open in town six decades ago was at the same location.

But not everyone is on board.

Dan Conde, owner of Nasty Nonni’s Wine & Spirits in Village Park Plaza, gathered 350 signatures in opposition to the new store. He’s worried that putting a competitive business across the street from his store will be bad for business.

“You can have two pizza places side by side and they will bring you two different pizzas and both sell, but I can’t make my Bud Light any better than his Bud Light,” said Conde. “You’re not increasing any revenue, you’re just spreading things out.”

Conde said he’s not against a beer and wine license being offered in town, but to put it across the street from an existing business would be an injustice.

But for every signature against his plan, Youssef presented a signature in support of it.

“I’m not trying to put anybody out of business — I’m doing exactly what I think. If I lived on Juniper Ave., what I can make easy (for residents),” he said. “I don’t care what’s next door or across the street. I am a small business owner.”

Selectman Jeff Cicolini explained that the board cannot deny an available beer and wine license to an applicant because of competition.

“I can’t say competition as a reason (for denial) because he’ll appeal the decision and he’ll win,” said Cicolini.

A handful of residents complained to the Board of Selectmen that they had concerns about traffic in the area being exacerbated with a new package store. Cicolini argued that the plaza already exists and another type of business could potentially bring in more traffic than a beer and wine store.

The panel approved the license, 4-0.

 

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