New York J&P Pizza will be the first restaurant in Damascus to serve beer and wine with meals following the approval of a liquor license on Thursday.
“We’ll probably be ready in about a week,” said co-owner and manager Tina Kiima, part of the family that has owned and run the restaurant in the Weis shopping center on Ridge Road for two decades.
“We have a couple who were the first to eat in the restaurant, and they want to be the first to have a beer there,” Kiima said.
Damascus has been a dry town for 80 years, but residents voted to lift the long-standing ban on serving alcohol on Nov. 6. Referendum wording allows restaurants to serve beer and wine on their premises, and supporters hope it will help boost local restaurants and encourage new ones to open.
On Thursday the county Board of License Commissioners in Rockville voted 4-0 in favor of granting a license to New York J&P Pizza after a midday hearing. The restaurant can begin to serve beer and wine following a required inspection by the county Department of Liquor Control.
Two other Damascus businesses also have applied. Ledo Pizza on Main Street in the Damascus Shopping Center is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 21, and the Music Café on Ridge Road is scheduled for a hearing on March 7.
Kiima said she plans to leave the day-to-day operations of New York J&P Pizza in the hands of her granddaughter, Amber Himes, 29, of Mt. Airy.
Himes said at the hearing that she has years of experience working as a bartender and server in her family’s New York J&P Pizza restaurants in Carroll County.
The Damascus site plans to continue operating as usual between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day except Friday and Saturday, when it will close at 11 p.m. Managers and servers are being trained in liquor department regulations and will ask customers for identification to make sure they don’t serve anyone under age 21.
Himes said she doesn’t expect beer and wine sales to become a large share of the restaurant’s revenues, but even a small increase is welcome.
“We’re hoping it will help in this economy, even if it brings in a little bit,” she said.