Frog withdraws expansion application in Morristown; council balks at granting special conditions

The Famished Frog. Photo: The Frog


The Famished Frog this week withdrew an application for permission to serve alcohol on a patio behind its Morristown restaurant.

Frog owner Jeff Beers envisioned about a dozen outdoor tables at his Washington Street establishment. But Morristown council members raised concerns on Wednesday about potential noise, which they said might annoy residents of an apartment complex proposed for nearby Schuyler Place.

Famished Frog owner Jeff Beers, right, makes pitch for a liquor license expansion to Morristown council members. From left: Stefan Armington, Robert Iannaccone, Michael Elms and Alison Deeb, Sept. 25, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Beers offered to cease outdoor operations at 11 pm. But Assistant Town Attorney  Elnardo Webster II  said the town cannot impose such conditions with any certainty.

The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control consistently has sided with bar owners who have opposed special conditions from the town, Webster said.

“We’re kind of stuck,” the attorney said. “We’ve attempted to regulate liquor licenses. We’ve been told that’s not permissible.”

Assistant Town Attorney Elnardo Webster II speaks at Famished Frog liquor license hearing. Council President Toshiba Foster listens, Sept. 25, 2019. . Photo by Kevin Coughlin

He did not mention any names. But Jimmy Cavanaugh, owner of the Iron Bar and Revolution on South Street, has appealed Morristown alcohol curfews several times to the state ABC and the courts, winning every time.

Beers was making his second appearance before the council, seeking permission to expand the Frog’s liquor license to the restaurant’s patio.

After about 45 minutes of testimony on Wednesday, and vigorous questioning by the council about decibel levels, Beers opted to withdraw his application. He said he intends to return to ask for an ordinance to regulate situations like his, involving outdoor dining on private property.

A present ordinance only addresses sidewalk dining, according to Beers’ attorney, Frederick B. Zelley of Basking Ridge.

Morristown’s council doubles as the town regulatory authority for liquor licenses.

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  1. Downtowns throughout New Jersey welcome outside dining, the Mayor and council are in the developers pocket, there no longer exists a separation of the business district from the residential district. When this mayor falls his co conspirators on the council should go also.

  2. This is a real shame. Once again, the council handcuffing the businesses that made this town come to where it is and why so many have moved here.

  3. Agreed^ serving diners outside wouldn’t be an issue at all. ESPECIALLY since the project in question hasn’t even been approved yet. What a joke

  4. This article would have made a perfect April Fools joke.

    “Morristown council members raised concerns on Wednesday about potential noise, which they said might annoy residents of an apartment complex proposed for nearby Schuyler Place”

    The Beers’ have been stellar members of the business community for over 20years. Investing in a building that was blighted for years and left to rot in Washington st.

    To offer such opposition based solely on hypothetical scenarios is embarrassing and disrespectful to the applicant.

    We are now concerned with noise pollution affecting a property that has yet to be built, has no current tenants and to a developer that has brought zero to the town or it’s residents as of today.

    The administration seems to be only concerned with assisting and supporting new developers in Morristown, while ignoring and out right disrespecting established business owners who have invested years of time and money into the town.

    Shame on the council and the administration for forcing Mr. Beers to withdraw this application. He is owed an apology for the time and money wasted on this project.