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.”

Three Chimneys introduces its newest stallion as it cuts his stud fee and most others at the farm

By Will Steffe
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Three Chimneys Farm in Midway held an open house Tuesday to introduce the stallion Red Giant, who will stand at the farm during the 2010 season.

The farm announced lower stud fees for this champion horse and for the 11 other stallions at the farm, in the wake of a decline in Thoroughbred breeding last year.

Three Chimneys, founded as a 100-acre breeding operation in 1972 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Clay, has grown to more than 1,500 acres. The farm is divided into six divisions to accommodate a wide variety of horses.

Red Giant was foaled Feb. 28, 2004 in Kentucky. This stallion comes from a rich pedigree. His sire is the 2000 European Horse of the Year, Giants Causeway, and his dam is Beyond the Sun.

Red Giant’s most notable wins came in a track-record time at the 2007 Virginia Derby, a win in the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, and a world record 1¼-mile time in a win at the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes. His overall racing record is 6-3-1 in 12 starts.

Three Chimneys posted a stud fee of $6,000 for Red Giant in 2010, a 20 percent discount from the $7,500 charged by his previous owner, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms of Lexington, in 2009. The stud fees at Three Chimneys for the upcoming breeding season ranged from $150,000 for Dynaformer to $5,000 for Good Reward and Lewis Michael. Compared to the other stallions at the farm, Red Giant’s fees are in the lower quarter.

Three Chimneys reduced fees for all its stallions but Dynaformer and Exchange Rate from 2009 to 2010. According to the farm’s records, Dynaformer has been a Top 5 sire five times since 2001. He sired 80 winners in 2008 with earnings totaling more than $5 million.

These declines in fees can be attributed to the impact of the recent national recession on the Kentucky thoroughbred industry.

“We have reduced most of our fees in recognition of the market,” owner Robert Clay said. “We will continue to limit our [stallion] book sizes, while offering multiple mare packages, breed-back specials and cash discounts.”

The Blood-Horse magazine’s Market Watch predicted that 2010 stud fees would drop because of poor sales of yearlings in 2009 at Keeneland. For a second year, few breeders gained significant profit and many sold their horses at a loss.

Kentucky horse industry economists also worry about declining attendance at horse races and the fact that fewer horses enter the races.

A proposed solution is to install slot machines at the tracks. The idea is that people will come to play the slot machines and the money generated can be used to increase race purses and attendance. Three Chimneys Marketing Director Jen Roytz said the farm doesn’t take a public stand on allowing slot machines at the horse racing tracks.

While they do not take a stand on the slot machine issue, managers of Three Chimneys seek to survive the current economic down turn by finding new ways to make a profit. “We are being very creative with the ways we are saving money for our clients and for the farm,” Roytz said. “We have also expanded our price breaks for those who breed to our stallions in an effort to support our customers.”