Liquor License ✅, Entertainment … Maybe

by | Feb 13, 2024

Town Council approves Wild Harvest’s liquor application but wants more info on the other first

Editor’s note: This story was updated Feb. 14 at 12:15 p.m.

The East Greenwich Town Council Monday night unanimously approved a liquor license for Wild Harvest on South County Trail with the condition that they do not serve alcohol after 10 p.m. Wild Harvest still needs to fulfill TIPs and insurance certifications and pass final inspections.

It was granted to them but not to be issued subject to meeting all legal requirements including TIPs, insurance and final inspections; with the conditions of closing at 10pm and no entertainment at this time. Then the public hearing was continued to 2/26 to discuss entertainment.

Following a bevy of residents’ concerns over an entertainment license request that would allow for “outdoor amplified noise,” Erica Maddalena, owner of Wild Harvest, agreed to continue working on the application to add more specificity regarding the type of music they will offer, which direction it will be played, and how late into the night. 

Maddalena recently added on to the log cabin at 1675 South County Trail so they could offer table service dining. 

Maddalena said that adding a dinner service and providing alcoholic beverage options is a “natural progression” for the restaurant that has been in operation for over 14 years (10 years at this location). She added while the license would allow the business to operate until 1 a.m., the dinner service would conclude around 10 p.m. As per the ordinance under the license, alcohol cannot be served when the kitchen isn’t open. 

Maddalena said the number of tables and the footprint of the restaurant, including the parking lot, would not change. 

Nine residents testified in person or via Zoom during the public hearing, expressing concerns ranging from an increase in drunk drivers, noise pollution, and the possibility of the business being sold to other owners who could operate until 1 a.m. since the ordinance allows for that.  

Benjamin Birch, a Limerock Drive resident, admitted that “we’ve had no problems in the past” with Wild Harvest and that his wife likes the eatery, but he was concerned over the “lack of specificity,” with the entertainment application citing that the license allows outdoor amplified music. Limerock Drive, part of the Stone Ridge neighborhood, sits to the west of Wild Harvest.

South County Trail contains a variety of zoning designations, including light industrial/office, residential, commercial and farmland. The Wild Harvest property is zoned commercial. It is bordered on both the north and south sides by single family houses (the one to the north is owned by Maddalena and her husband, Mike Balsamo*). A large medical office building sits directly across from the restaurant. 

Kathy and Jeff Hall, who live next to Wild Harvest on South County Trail, said they only heard about the liquor and entertainment licenses through notice of the Monday hearing and they wished Maddalena had just stopped by and talked to them about it.

Birch said much of what the owners said at the public hearing, including not serving alcohol past 10 p.m., was “encouraging,” but he was still concerned about the possibility of loud music being played until 1 a.m.

“This isn’t a vested right for life,” said Councilmember Mike Donegan of entertainment and liquor licenses. He said that if the owner violated aspects of a license once approved, such as being too loud or serving alcohol after 10 p.m. “we’ll be back in a year” because these licenses are only awarded a year at a time. 

EG resident Dennis Votta spoke in favor of granting Wild Harvest the licenses, arguing Wild Harvest was “not a nightclub, not an Irish pub,” and that the restaurant is “not a Main Street kind of place.” He said he believed the restaurant would be “more of an earlier dinner restaurant.” 

Councilmember Caryn Corenthal suggested that the owner “have some conversations with your neighbors” before coming back to the council with a more fleshed-out entertainment license request.

One of those neighbors is Bronwyn Morrissey-Valoros, of 1645 South County Trail, who said she lives in the woods because she likes the quiet and explained that the area “is clearly residential.” 

“I’m sure the decision for the desired changes is to increase business which will increase the number of cars searching for parking,” she said. Those cars highlighted another worry of hers when she asked, “Does East Greenwich need to attract more people to town who seem to come here only to drink and drive under the influence on our roads?”

The Town Council will consider the updated entertainment license for Wild Harvest at its meeting on Feb. 26.

*Mike Balsamo is a member of the East Greenwich News Board.

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Bruce Mastracchio
Bruce Mastracchio
February 14, 2024 7:30 am

My wife and I have been to Wild Harvest outside events on two occasions. Both were rather mild and subdued. Music was a non-factor. Very low.
The Balsamos are great people (our neighbors) and the WH has great food. I suggest neighbors go to an outside event and see how it will be handled. I think that Erica and Mike would be amenable to any suggestions that benefit all involved.
PS: In the spirit of full disclosure, Erica is a distant cousin of mine.


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