LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2004) Oldham County s long-awaited
effort to allow alcohol sales in restaurants that seat 100 or more
people has become a reality.
Despite its often-times controversial passage during a fall referendum,
the measure wound its way through the legal system and was finally
implemented for the first time in May when the La Grange-based Hometown
Pizza began serving beer.
Since then, two more restaurants Westport General Store
and Heathers On The River have obtained their licenses
to serve alcohol, and more are awaiting approval of their applications.
The Oldham County Chamber of Commerce backed the measure as a way
to boost business and try to stop the flow of travel to nearby Louisville
to order beer or wine with a meal.
We needed to do this, from a business standpoint, to keep up
with the changing population demographics of our county, said
chamber president Joe Schoenbaechler.
As part of the changing times in Oldham Countys dining establishments,
many are eager to sample the fare at the new Irish Rover Too, which
after a complete renovation is scheduled to open June 3 at 117 E.
Main St. in La Grange. The restaurant will be the second for owners
Siobhan and Michael Reidy, who opened the first Irish Rover nearly
11 years ago on Frankfort Avenue in Louisvilles Crescent Hill
area. Siobhan Reidy, whose father is Oldham County District 5 Magistrate
Duane Murner, said the menu at the La Grange restaurant will be similar
to that of the one in Louisville. The fare is authentic Irish pub
cuisine. Full bar service will be offered. The Irish Rover will be
the fourth restaurant in Oldham County to serve alcoholic beverages
under the new Alcoholic Beverage Control ordinance.
Lou Shaffer, owner of Old Louisville Style Chili Parlor & Fish
House in La Grange, and Dan and Jean Smith, owners of A Little Taste
of Heaven in Crestwood, are hoping to file an application to eventually
The handful of Oldham restaurants now serving or planning to serve
alcoholic beverages differ in what is offered. Some serve beer, wine
and spirits on a limited basis, while others offer a full bar. Hometown
Pizza serves beer only and does not offer any type of alcohol service
in Crestwood because the restaurant there does not meet the 100-seat
by Ruth Wright
Rover II's Michael
Reidy pours a beer.
When its license is approved, A Little Taste of Heaven will serve
beer, wine and liquor but not to the extent of having bottles upon
bottles of every variety, owner Dan Smith said. Our intention
is not to become a full-fledged bar. Were here to supplement
our restaurant business, not to go into the bar business, he
Old Louisville Style Chili Parlor will operate similarly. Im
not going to have a full bar. We will probably be serving beer and
then maybe some wine and specialty drinks, said Shaffer, who
did not foresee any problems with getting his restaurants liquor
license approved. I was fortunate; I met the criteria of having
the 100 seats. The 30 percent alcohol wont be a problem,
he said, referring to the requirement that alcohol sales comprise
no more than 30 percent of gross receipts.
Although Westport General Store will offer full bar service, it will
continue to focus on its food service, said owner Will Crawford. The
restaurant offers a wide variety of food, including everything from
fried bologna sandwiches to beef tenderloin with Dijon mustard sauce.
He has hired Harold Baker Jr., former chef of the four-star Galt House
Flagship Restaurant and Indigo Gourmet Cafe, to help make that happen.
The liquor is not going to make us. What were concentrating
on is our food quality. We see the alcohol as just a way to enhance
that, he said.
Still, Crawford admitted that alcohol service will open a door to
people who might not otherwise travel to Westport for a meal.
Were pretty isolated where we are, and for us to make
it out here we need to bring people in from the La Grange and Louisville
area, said Crawford. One thing that weve found is
that even with the quality of food were offering, some people
wouldnt choose to turn this way down Hwy. 42 (without alcohol
service). Theyd go to Louisville instead.
by Ruth Wright
Rover II's features Guinness on tap.
By mid-May, all liquor license applications received by the office
of Judge-Executive Mary Ellen Kinser, the countys ABC administrator,
had been processed according to Kinsers assistant, Sharon Herndon.
The process, which includes county level background checks and building
inspections as well as state level inspections and final approval,
has so far averaged between 30 to 45 days, Herndon said.
Although licenses have been issued to a couple of La Grange restaurants
under the county ordinance, the city has decided to adopt its own,
separate ABC ordinance, which will take precedence once it is established.
When and if our ordinance is approved by the state, the city
would credit those restaurants (in La Grange) for the fees that theyve
paid and would be looking to take over jurisdiction and handle the
renewals, said county attorney Wade Helm.
The proposed La Grange ABC ordinance differs slightly but was based
on the Oldham County and City of Danville ABC ordinances. Danville,
located in Boyle County, is one of just a few Kentucky cities qualified
by election, like Oldham County, to allow limited alcohol sales.
One reason La Grange decided to adopt its own ordinance was to lower
some fees, since the city, unlike the county, charges a business tax,
according to city council member and ABC ordinance committee chair
The city of La Grange is the only government entity in Oldham
County that charges a business tax. Anyone who came into La Grange
would have to pay that 5 percent and on top of that pay a business
license tax. We felt that that was unfair to the businesses coming
in, Ricketts said.
The citys proposed license fees are $600 for new licenses and
$200 for renewals, $400-$550 less than what the county now charges.
Also proposed by the city is a regulatory license fee of 2.5 percent
of gross alcohol sales receipts. The county charges 5 percent for
the same fee.
Other differences with the La Grange ordinance include different hours
of sale on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 1 p.m. instead of noon to midnight,
and a different ABC administrator the police chief instead
of the county judge-executive. Also, fees collected by the city will
go toward any additional city law enforcement officers that may be
needed to administer the ordinance, said Ricketts.
A second reading of the proposed La Grange ABC ordinance will be held
at the city councils June 7 meeting. If passed, it will be forwarded
to the state ABC for final approval. Helm said it would be his recommendation
that the council allow 60 to 90 days for the ordinance to take effect.