Fish House, Perkins close;
La Grange studies moist support
(March 2002) LA GRANGE, KY. - Mikes Fish House and
Perkins Restaurant have both closed in recent weeks, reducing La Granges
food choices and revealing perhaps the need for a closer look at the
moist vote being discussed in Oldham County to help restaurants compete.
Mikes Fish House co-owner Mark Hughes took up the moist vote campaign
until he and his partner, Clancy OBrien, decided to close down
their restaurant on Hwy. 146. It had only been opened since Aug. 3,
1999, but the unexpected death in June 1999 of founder Mike Clark, for
which the restaurant was named, put added pressure on the partners.
Hughes lives in Shelby County and works full time for the state of Kentucky.
His wife, Lucia, teaches in Henry County. They were trying to work,
raise three children and spend all their weekends at the restaurant.
It was just getting to be too much, and family is more important,
said Hughes. When Mike died, it just didnt work out like
it was supposed to.
Clark opened the first Mikes Fish House in Shelbyville and a second
one in Pleasureville. He convinced Hughes and OBrien to invest
in a third in La Grange. It was Mikes dream; he wanted to
do it and he had the experience and people skills to pull it off. But
when he died, everything changed.
The property is now listed for sale and has generated a couple of offers,
Hughes said. He said serving alcohol might have helped business, but
it wasnt a deciding factor in closing the place.
Perkins Restaurant closed because of slow business through the week
from the community, according to district marketing manager Ron Luellen.
We did well on weekends from interstate traffic, but not well
through the week. It was more cost effective to close it.
Some of the 20 employees were hired at other Perkins in Louisville,
he said. That building, too, is listed for sale.
The moist vote campaign, meanwhile, has been taken up by La Grange landscaper
David Harper, who is running for La Grange mayor. To qualify for a referendum,
he must obtain 25 percent or 516 petition signatures of
registered voters in the last election and turn them into the Judge-Executives
office to be verified. Then a city-wide referendum would be held. If
passed, a city ordinance would be drafted allowing alcohol sales within
the city limits of La Grange.
Harper said he had about 200 signatures and planned to meet Feb. 25
with the Oldham County Economic Development Association, State Rep.
Tim Feeley and Oldham County Chamber of Commerce executive director
Joe Schoenbaechler to discuss gaining support for the issue.
Oldham County is right on I-71 and a lot of people go through
here but were losing too much business in our restaurants and
hotels because we dont serve alcohol, said Harper, 30. Several
restaurants in Louisville have said they would come to La Grange if
we could serve alcohol.
Harper says the revenue generated from alcohol sales and licensing could
be used for city services, such as police and fire and to possibly create
a place for teenagers to go for recreation.
Right now we dont have any place for kids, and our police
force is understaffed by three to five people, Harper said.
An unofficial poll of Oldham County Chamber of Commerce members taken
at the November 2001 quarterly dinner revealed a margin of three to
one in favor of the chamber taking a moist position for alcohol sales
in La Grange. The results will be used to determine the chamber boards
position on the issue, officials said.
Though supporters of the petition have not yet gathered sufficient
signatures to bring the issue to the voters, the chamber staff now understands
our members interest in supporting this issue of economic development,
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