An American-style steakhouse could open as soon as March 2020 after St Helens Council approved a premises license.
The plans are to open a new restaurant in the former Hudson Smokehouse in Savoy Building, Bridge Street, which has remained closed since 2016.
A supporting statement from the applicant, Kane McQuade, said the restaurant will have a focus on steaks, burgers, hotdogs and ribs.
Mr McQuade had also applied to sell alcohol on and off the premises.
But concerns were raised by the licensing authority over some of the details within the application, particularly around alcohol and the impact this will have on the surrounding area.
On Thursday, a hearing was held at St Helens Town Hall to decide whether to grant the licence.
Chris Kenny, from the council’s licensing department, said the operating schedule contained within the application is “inadequate” and said clarity was needed over the “true nature” of the premises.
Mr Kenny said: “I do not believe that neither the applicant nor the licence application makes it clear, currently, how these premises would operate should they be granted a premises licence.
“At present I do not have the confidence that it has been made clear how the granting of this premises licence would, firstly, not add to the cumulative impact of the town centre, or how the premises or its management would promote the licensing objectives.”
Currently, a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) is in force across the Town Centre ward.
Council chiefs have previously described the CIA as a “strategic tool” that allow local authorities and its partners to have a greater say when reviewing licensing applications for licensed premises.
At the hearing, the applicant’s solicitor David Merrills said several measures are being taken by his client to reduce the perception of the establishment being a bar, rather than a restaurant that serves alcohol.
One of these is a change of name than that on the application.
The restaurant will be now be called 66 American Steakhouse, removing remove the word ‘bar’.
In addition, Mr Merrills said only customers who order a “substantial meal” will be served alcohol and no punters will be served alcohol at the bar.
Further clarity was also given on the capacity of the restaurant.
The original application said the restaurant could accommodate more than 100 people.
However, Mr McQuade said a chef has advised him the restaurant could one “realistically” accommodate 60-80 people at one time.
The committee was also informed the earliest the restaurant will be able to open is March 2020.
Following concerns from the committee, Mr McQuade agreed to remove the request to sell alcohol to be consumed off the premises, but said he needed an alcohol licence in order to compete.
“You get more family-oriented people coming around Bridge Street,” Mr McQuade said.
"That’s my intention, I just want to serve food.
“I’ve seen the impacts alcohol can have on people. I intended it to be as minimal as possible.
“I don’t want to not have a bar because I can’t compete.”
The committee deliberated its decision in private and eventually concluded to grant a licence for the supply of alcohol on the premises only.
This is subject to several conditions, including a range of measures suggested by Merseyside Police.
Labour’s Jeanie Bell, chairman of the licensing sub-committee, praised Mr McQuade for his willingness to engage with licensing and advised him to seek professional advice and support with his business venture.
Coun Bell said: “Get some advice, get some support. We want to see establishments like yours in the town centre.
“The Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA), the concept of that was us being able to take control of the type of establishments that come into that area and how we want to see it.
“And having a family eatery and a restaurant sounds like a really good addition to town, as long as that’s what it is.”