Portside gets permission for outdoor 'patio' during Fourth concerts

By Kristen Ray
Posted 6/13/19

After debate and with some reluctance, the Bristol Town Council voted 4-1 to allow the new Portside Tavern on Thames Street to open an outdoor drinking and food tent during the Fourth of July Concert …

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Portside gets permission for outdoor 'patio' during Fourth concerts


After debate and with some reluctance, the Bristol Town Council voted 4-1 to allow the new Portside Tavern on Thames Street to open an outdoor drinking and food tent during the Fourth of July Concert Series. For 14 consecutive nights, with the live concert series taking place across the street at Independence Park, Portside owner Richard Corrente is planning an open-air tent serving drinks and some food, for patrons in a standing-room-only environment.

In a small parking lot next to the tavern, there will be a tent of about 30 feet by 30 feet, with a few high top tables, a separate entrance and exit to the area, and bathrooms separate from the restaurant.

Councilors briefly debated how to strike a balance between being business-friendly while maintaining safety and security, before granting a temporary expansion of Portside Tavern’s Class BV liquor license during their meeting on Wednesday, June 5.

Mr. Corrente said he aims to draw in the 25 to 45-age crowd during a time that typically attracts thousands of people nightly to downtown Bristol.

“I think it can be an attraction for people wanting to come down here,” Mr. Corrente said.

It would also provide an additional eight to nine jobs, he told council members, up to four of which would include security and would be actively checking IDs. While the restaurant itself would maintain normal business hours (which, earlier in the meeting, the council extended until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday), service in the tent would stop at 10 p.m., right around the time that the concerts typically wrap up.

With two decades worth of experience in large crowd control, Mr. Corrente felt confident that he could provide a casual and safe environment for patrons to enjoy the concerts and July 3 fireworks.

“I think there’s a need for it, I think there’s a want for it,” he said.

Councilors were less concerned about Mr. Corrente’s ability to maintain control within the confines of the tent, than they were about what could happen once guests leave and continue on with their night. Together with Interim Chief of Police Brian Peters, they were hesitant to allow Mr. Corrente to provide predominantly alcohol service to what could be upwards of an additional 150 people during a time when security resources are typically already spread thin.

“I really think this is just asking for trouble,” warned Councilor Mary Parella.

Mr. Corrente, meanwhile, was in full agreement that an extra 150 people was a bit much; he had been basing all of his calculations on the assumption that 100 would be the maximum figure. That was a number both Councilor Antonio Teixeira and chairman Nathan Calouro could more easily swallow, with Chief Peters ultimately relenting that he and his officers would find a way to make it work.

They cautiously voted 4-1 — Ms. Parella being the only no — with conditions that there would be a 100-person limit, a 10 p.m. stop time for service and an after-event review conducted.

“You have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders,” said Mr. Calouro. “I hope a year from now, we can look back at this and say this was a nice addition to the celebration.”

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