Bangor council amends food and beverage code for Nocturnem beer garden

Pickering Square Park sits behind several Main Street businesses, including Nocturnem Draft Haus, whose owner Gene Beck wants to use park space to have a segregated area where patrons can eat and drink outside. The Bangor City Council revised city code to allow him to do so Monday night.
Pickering Square Park sits behind several Main Street businesses, including Nocturnem Draft Haus, whose owner Gene Beck wants to use park space to have a segregated area where patrons can eat and drink outside. The Bangor City Council revised city code to allow him to do so Monday night. Buy Photo
Posted June 26, 2012, at 9:02 p.m.
Pickering Square Park sits behind several Main Street businesses, including Nocturnem Draft Haus, whose owner Gene Beck wants to use park space to have a segregated area where patrons can eat and drink outside. The Bangor City Council revised city code to allow him to do so Monday night.
Pickering Square Park sits behind several Main Street businesses, including Nocturnem Draft Haus, whose owner Gene Beck wants to use park space to have a segregated area where patrons can eat and drink outside. The Bangor City Council revised city code to allow him to do so Monday night. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine —Thanks to fast service by the Bangor City Council on Monday night, a bar and lounge on Main Street will be able to create an outdoor beer garden.

The council amended code language to allow Nocturnem Draft Haus to serve food and alcohol outside, in the backyard of the popular specialty beer establishment.

It’s unlikely that many people, including those who walk across it on a daily basis, know that the 123-foot-wide, 52-foot-long concrete and brick area behind Nocturnem and off Broad Street is a public park, and fewer know it also has a name: Pickering Square Park.

Nocturnem owner Gene Beck didn’t know, but due to a desire to expand his business to include an outdoor beer garden-cafe type of area, he knows all about it now.

“I’d done some research on using that area out back, but we found out it was actually a city park and you couldn’t do that,” Beck said.

Beck then sought assistance from a couple of Bangor city councilors and Bangor City Solicitor Norm Heitmann.

“We have all these funky little nuances with city of Bangor ordinances and codes,” said Heitmann. “Our ordinances say you cannot consume alcohol in parks.

“There are two exceptions: Bass Park and the golf course. And then some time ago, we made exceptions for West Market Square with the outdoor eating venues.”

That was in 1991, when the Bangor City Council established a 10 p.m. outdoor drinking curfew for downtown businesses utilizing sidewalk space to set up tables and chairs. Last month, the council extended that curfew to midnight.

“I remembered Whig and Courier used to have tables set up out front and that was just across the street, so I worked with a couple councilors to see if we could get this changed,” Beck said.

The Bangor City Council unanimously approved the change Monday night.

“Literally, it’s right outside their back door and it’s already somewhat enclosed and self-contained,” said Heitmann. “It only made sense to make that an exception.”

Now Beck just has to create a plan to put up a fence around the area and add some tables and chairs, and file those plans with the Maine State Liquor and Lottery Commission.

“I was going to start working on it today, but my laptop decided to turn into a big paperweight,” Beck said. “I think we can possibly get this going pretty quickly, though. Mid-July is my target.”

Nocturnem is open 3 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday.

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