Patricia Sukijthamapan, owner of Smile Thai Cafe, said she will seek approval at a hearing with the Cambridge License Committee (CLC) on Nov. 14. “Every single night, a customer asks for beer and wine,” Sukijthamapan said. She added that because Tanjore, located on the first floor of the 16-18 Eliot St. building, is licensed to sell alcohol, she loses customers to the Indian restaurant.
“Some people dress nice, wear suits, and get so disappointed that we don’t have [a] license,” said Sukijthamapan of the difficulty her restaurant faces without the license. “We [are] below the other two Thai restaurants,” she added, referring to the business her restaurant received in comparison to 9 Tastes and Spice.
While the CLC does not require the petition, Sukijthamapan said that she is asking customers to sign it in a show support, at her lawyer’s recommendation. Many of those customers agreed that the laws preventing Harvard Square businesses from selling beer, wine, or liquor are impractical.
“It’s silly,” said Christopher N. Sutton, a student at the Kennedy School of Government who signed the petition. “It sort of reflects the wider Mass. law,”
But in 1986, the CLC passed a policy on the sale of alcoholic beverages, capping the number of locations in the Square that could receive licensing.
Smile Thai Cafe is one of 90 restaurants in Harvard Square and one of the 70 members of Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA).
Denise Jillson, the executive director of the HSBA, said that the organization would “support anyone of our restaurants that choose to apply for license.”
“The whole idea to have a restaurant is really about accommodating people the way they wish to be accommodated,” Jillson said. “They just want to have a nice meal and a glass of wine or a pizza and a cold beer.”
In April of this year, Jillson sent a letter to CLC Executive Officer Elizabeth Lint, asking for a review of the 20-year-old policy.
Lint could not be reached for comment yesterday.