After 42 years, Norman’s Tap will close its doors Thursday, Feb. 6, at midnight, as ordered by the East Greenwich Town Council at its meeting Jan. 27. Down the street, Rok Bar also must close its doors Feb. 6. The victualing-liquor licenses for both establishments expired Nov. 30; the council granted them three extensions to work something out, but the Harris family was not successful.
“Just because we’re closing doesn’t mean it’s the end,” said Sharon Hazard, Norman Harris’s daughter. Hazard took the lead in working with the council on Norman’s. “I’m seeing it as a new beginning.”
Harris owes the town more than $30,000 in sewer fees and interest dating from 2010. The sewer fees – about $8,000 a year – cover the restaurant and a total of six apartments and two buildings that together make up 159 Main St. Town ordinance dictates taxes and fees must be paid up in order to renew a victualing-liquor license. The town failed to note the outstanding sewer fees in 2011 and 2012. Rok Bar & Grill owes the state about $5,000 to $6,000 in taxes.
“We just got into this situation and we thought we could get out of it by a payment plan, but it didn’t work out,” said Hazard. “I can see that we’re not anybody special and we shouldn’t be able to stay open but I really thought they would work with us.”
Norman’s Tap opened in 1972. Harris had run Jiggers two doors down from 1966 to 1971, but he didn’t own that building. He was able to buy 159 Main St., which at the time he took over housed a one-room dentist and a one-man taxi cab company on the second floor, a dance school and an adult book store on the first floor.
By opening the diner on the north side of the first floor, Harris was returning the site to a previous incarnation – Sue’s Restaurant, an eatery that operated there in the 1940s. Early on, the booths had individual juke boxes. The old cigarette machine is still there. The license to sell cigarettes cost Harris $5 back in the 1970s – a one-time fee.
Norman’s is open until midnight on Thursday.