Backyard Milton liquor license draws protest

Public hearing set July 24 in Georgetown
Neighbors of the Backyard Milton restaurant are disputing the business' application for a patio license and related variances. A hearing with the Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner will be held at 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 24, in the Sussex County Council Chambers in Georgetown. BY NICK ROTH
July 23, 2013

The Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 24, to review a protested liquor license for the Backyard Milton restaurant.

The Backyard is under construction on Broadkill Road and is owned by Milton businesswoman Ami Rae, who also owns and operates the Vintage Café on Union Street. Rae has applied for restaurant, Sunday and patio licenses that permit the sale, service and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises. She has also applied for three variances to allow outdoor entertainment, a wet bar and outside speakers.

“One thing that's disappointing to me about the protest is that none of the neighbors came and spoke to us,” she said. “We're here every day. If they had just come and talked to me first, it could've been out in the open, and we could've had conversations and it could've been worked out.”

The hearing will be held in the Sussex County Council Chambers, in the county administration building on The Circle in Georgetown. ABCC staff said a hearing is required when the application draws a protest petition with 10 or more signatures. Rae said there were 36 signatures in the protest petition. A petition in support of the restaurant's liquor license has drawn about 200 signatures, she said.

Rae said the initial plan was to open last fall, but construction fell behind. The new target opening is some time in August. Rae describes the restaurant as a market, restaurant and bakery that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food will be American style with a focus on Eastern Shore Sussex County. She will utilize Milton farmers and growers for seasonal ingredients.

“We want to build a place that the community can use,” she said. “One of the really cool things I've experienced at the Vintage Café when I opened three years ago is that I have customers who met there and have grown into really close friends. That warms my heart; a place I created is helping build a better community and a stronger community.”

She said she is seeking a wet bar license in order to occasionally serve alcohol on the patio. The plan is to have a small seven-seat bar inside the restaurant. However, if an event is being held at the restaurant, she said, she doesn't want to have to apply for a permit every time.

The speaker request, she said, will allow for music to be played for those dining on the patio as well as occasional live entertainment.

Following the July 24 hearing, the ABC commissioner will make the decision on whether to allow the licenses and variances.

Those wishing to submit written comments may do so by sending a letter to the Office of Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner, Carvel State Building, Third Floor, 820 N. French St., Wilmington, DE 19801.