Wet or Dry?
Grange liquor vote July 24
will determine alcohol sales
to help keep visitors in town
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky, (July 2012) The wait is almost
over to find out if the City of La Grange will expand liquor sales.
A special election has been scheduled for July 24 to determine if the
city will become a wet city or merely remain moist.
I turned in over 400 signatures to the County Clerks Office,
said Kim Buckler, Executive Director of the Oldham County Tourism Commission.
A special election has been set for July 24. If it passes, we
will be wet by October.
The Oldham County Tourism Commission is spearheading the effort to expand
liquor sales in La Grange. The commissions efforts are twofold:
It hopes to increase attraction options in the city in an effort to
bring in new visitors, while keeping existing residents from spending
their dollars elsewhere.
Weve had a lot of interest in the county becoming wet also,
said Buckler. In fact, she said her biggest feedback has been the comment,
Why not go county-wide? with liquor sales.
had a lot of interest in the county becoming wet also."
Kim Buckler, Oldham Co. Tourism Director
Buckler said three well-established chefs have contacted
her about opening nice restaurants, but feel they cant do so without
serving alcohol. While she cannot disclose their names at this time,
she feels these restaurants would add tremendously to what the city
and county already has to offer.
She said the petition got good coverage when placed in restaurants and
businesses in La Grange. I have 95 active followers on Facebook,
Between 350 and 400 signatures were needed to hold a special election
to put it to a vote. Buckler only had one chance to submit enough signatures
to the County Clerks Office.
She personally checked all signatures to make sure the individuals were
registered voters who signed the petition and lived within the city
limits, and would therefore be eligible to vote in July. Many signers
did not reside within the city limits.
Buckler said she only heard two or three negative comments. Some who
are not for it are churches, or groups you would normally expect to
be against such a vote, she said.
As a fourth-class city (based on population), La Grange would still
have to abide by certain provisions, which allows more control over
alcohol sales. The sale of liquor by the drink in restaurants would
not change, she said.
Restaurants must have at least 100 seats and are required to make 70
percent of their sales from food, in order to sell liquor. If approved,
the wet vote would open the door for current smaller restaurants that
have less than 100 seats to serve beer with no food-to-beer sales percentage,
It would allow those restaurants with at least 50 seats the option for
a wine permit with a 50-50 food-to-wine percentage. The current
liquor ordinance will not change with this vote.
Serendipity, located on Main Street, is one of the smaller restaurants
that would be affected if the vote passes.
We now have seating inside for about 35 customers, said
manager Becky Kimbles, who favors the city going wet. If the vote passes,
we can add 15 to make it to 50 seats, no problem.
If required to have 100 seats, that would change all Serendipity
is, said Kimbles. Its hard to get 100 seats in here.
She plans to expand the business, based on the passing of the vote.
Kimbles would like to expand the kitchen, push back an ice cream counter
area to make more seating inside, and install a beer garden behind the
building. Id also like to partner with a local winery,
which Buckler is in favor of as well.
Serendipity has been established in La Grange for more than six years.
Each year, Kimbles said she has added to the business and expanded the
menu. Currently offered on the menu are soups, salads and sandwiches,
such as burgers and grilled chicken. In addition to the beer garden,
a grill would be installed, which in turn would offer more grilled sandwich
varieties to go along with beer or wine.
The online poles show that it should happen, she said. But
it comes down to the fact that those individuals must be the ones to
go out of the poles and vote. There are plenty who are against it and
have voiced their opinion, and more than likely will vote against it,
she said. But I can also see peoples point in not wanting
it to pass.
Kimbles said she hopes the entire county will become wet one day, not
just the City of La Grange. It will encourage more little shops
and smaller restaurants to open here. Right now, they look at it as,
Why should I open here, when I can go to Jefferson County and
make more profit?
She said other surrounding cities are profiting from La Granges
loss and taking the taxes from us. We should be the ones getting
the tax money. She would also like to see the city run a package
liquor store if at all possible, and put the money back into the city.
Up to three package liquor stores could open in La Grange if the vote
passes. They would be subject to state alcohol beverage control approval.
The Tourism Commission targeted La Grange because it is where lodging
facilities are located within the county. Buckler said she would rather
see visitors purchase liquor to drink in their hotel rooms rather than
drive to Louisville for alcohol to drink and then drive back to their
hotel in La Grange.
Buckler believes that going wet would be good for tourism, and
eventually for the whole county. Its good for the city, and its
good for the economy.
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