Belmont Board of Selectmen chair Mark Paolillo expressed it best at the board's Monday, Aug. 26 meeting: "I'd like a margarita with my Mexican food."
And so will everyone – over 21, that is – eating at Belmont Center's newest restaurant as the board tentatively agreed to issue a full-liquor license to the owner of El Centro 'Tres'.
"I have been working with the neighbors for more than a year and they know we will be responsible with this (license)," said Rabi Islam, a co-partner in the restaurant that will be located at 66 Leonard St., the former home of The Frame Hut, in the same Belmont Center commercial building as Robert's Hair Salon.
Islam "understands that this is a privilege and not a right," said Belmont attorney George Heos who was representing the former engineer before the board, noting that all future staff at the restaurant will undergo training on proper distribution of alcohol to customers.
Islam said he will only serve customers at the restaurant's bar area if they also order a meal or appetizers.
He currently holds a full-liquor license in his Brookline restaurant, El Centro Dos, and a beer, wine and cordial license at his flagship Boston restaurant in the city's South End. Unlike a full liquor license, a cordial license restricts certain hard liquors like vodka, but allows for sweeter liquors like sambuca and flavored vodkas to be served.
While he still needs final OKs from the town's Board of Health and Office of Community Development, it appears by their favorable words of support the board will grant the town's third full-liquor license (Belmont Center's il Casale and Savinos Grill in Cushing Square have the others) to Islam.
The Massachusetts legislature approved eight full-liquor licenses to Belmont.
Islam said he hopes to open the 66-seat 'Tres' by mid-November. The restaurant, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, will be serving from a menu similar to its South End restaurant: a signature guacamole ($8), corn tortilla stuffed with cheese ($14), charcoal-grilled steak Sonora style ($22) and fish or Barbacon tacos ($5).