Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only two restaurants serving alcohol on Sunday

By Cassidy Myers
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford County recently passed an ordinance to allow Sunday alcohol sales, but you wouldn’t know it if you drove down Midway’s Main Street on a Sunday evening looking for a restaurant serving an adult beverage.

In April, Woodford County Fiscal Court approved Sunday alcohol sales in Midway and the surrounding area outside of Versailles. The law was passed largely at the behest of restaurants in Midway, but most of them have yet to take advantage of it, citing the cost of the license and the restrictions on smaller restaurants.

“I have not applied for the Sunday license because it costs $300 for the county and $300 for the state. That's a lot of money for only Sunday,” said Laura Wolfrom, owner of Bistro La Belle. “And the state requires 100 permanent indoor seats in a restaurant to be considered for a full liquor license. This discriminates against small restaurants that are very worthy of serving liquor.”

Only two restaurants, Quirk Café and Holly Hill Inn, have obtained licenses to sell alcohol on Sundays. Holly Hill Inn only serves alcohol from 1 to their 2 p.m. closing, but says it will probably extend hours at some point, and Quirk serves from 1 to 4 p.m., although the ordinance allows sales until 10 p.m.

However, if you’re looking for a drink after 4 p.m., you’re not out of luck. The Midway Fuels gas station sells beer from noon to 8 p.m.

In addition to the restrictions put on small restaurants, Jimmy Duggan, owner of Duggan’s, says that because Midway is so empty on Sundays, it’s not profitable to open, though he is still contemplating obtaining a license so he can sell alcohol on Sundays during next year’s World Equestrian Games. “Midway is not busy on Sundays and I won't make any money,” he said. “As for the Games, we will see.”

The Games, which will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park for three weeks in late September and early October, were a motivating factor in passing the ordinance. Especially during the Games, Midway needed a way to compete with surrounding areas like Lexington, Lawrenceburg and Frankfort, which allow Sunday alcohol sales.

Grayson Vandegrift, owner of Quirk, thinks it will be a great revenue boost for his restaurant, especially with all of the foreigners expected to be in town for the Games, “It’s going to be great. European customers are more likely to have a beer with lunch. It’s going to be huge. A lot of extra revenue.”

With a struggling economy and the increased cost of food, selling alcohol is one of the most profitable ways for restaurants to make money, and can be the tipping point for many eateries.
“It’s so hard to make money off of food alone,” Vandegrift said, “so most businesses need to sell alcohol in order to keep their doors open.”

Although some restaurants may not be taking advantage of the law yet, the ability to open on Sundays for special occasions is a huge potential bonus, Mayor Tom Bozarth said. “It gives each restaurant the flexibility to open on Sundays for regular business or have special events on a Sunday,” he said. “When New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday they now can be open and serve alcohol.”

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