City talks additional liquor license, againDickinson City Commissioners once again visited the notion of adding another liquor license Monday evening at City Hall. This go-around, local business owners expressed their concerns during a meeting.
Dickinson City Commissioners once again visited the notion of adding another liquor license Monday evening at City Hall. This go-around, local business owners expressed their concerns during a meeting.
In discussion since June, the topic will be revisited at least once more before deciding whether or not — and how — to add another liquor license, as requested by Dickinson resident and entrepreneur Jayne Ridl.
After doing her homework, Ridl found in city ordinance that once the population reached 18,000, another liquor license could be granted.
Aspiring to open a nightclub, Ridl approached the commission in June about obtaining a liquor license, and it was realized city code does not specify how to go about additional issuance.
“The liquor license is determined by population base, not what’s in my bank,” Ridl said. “This city and surrounding communities were built and thrived on the concepts of private ownership and free trade. All I want is a liquor license. I love the city of Dickinson, born and raised.
“I’m not here to bash, complain, cry or yell. I just want a liquor license for its face value to start a dream in the town I love,” she said.
One tenured business owner, who has been waiting for a liquor license to open up, feels it may be his turn to obtain one.
Al Kramer, owner of Classic Lanes for the past 32 years, said his establishment applied for a full liquor license in 1991, but was denied on grounds that one was not available.
After obtaining a beer/wine license, Kramer has since been interested in applying for a full liquor license.
“Classic Lanes has been a business in Dickinson for the past 50 years. We’ve been paying taxes in Dickinson for the past 50 years,” Kramer said, adding to his knowledge, his business has had no liquor violations. “To me that just seems with those credentials I believe that we earned it and should have some kind of a preference point system over new business that’s coming into town and wants to have a full liquor license.”
Kramer doesn’t feel a liquor license shouldn’t be bid out, but rather issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.
With area growth exploding, even developers are noticing the high demands of liquor licenses.
Walt Smith of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, a Dickinson engineering firm said, he is being approached by developers asking about available liquor licenses.
“I had one just yesterday looking to bring business into town and his first question to me was do you know if there’s any liquor licenses available in town?’ ” Smith said. “Just letting you know not only is everybody in town looking for one, but there’s people coming from out of town looking for them as well.”
Jason Fridrich, representing D&J Liquors Inc., Liquid Assets, purchased the businesses’ liquor license for $125,000 in 2004 after Borrowed Buck’s Roadhouse closed.
Fridrich feels a bid is a fair approach, but there should be a minimum bid.
“If there is another license issued, I think we need to have a fair and equitable way for these previous people that went and spent $100,000 or $200,000 to obtain a license to open their business.”
Tracy Tooz, representing TH Investments, said the additional license should be done by a public bid, “that has no right of rejection.”
“I ask that this board considers that yes its time to redraft an ordinance and to plan for future growth and expansion but not to devalue our 34 investments,” Tooz said.
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the number of city-issued liquor licenses has stayed “very stagnant,” as each time a license is issued, it is usually transferred from a previous business.
In 1998, there was 16 on/off sale liquor licenses and that number has stayed the same.
The Evil Olive Pizzeria & Bar holds the former Queen City Club’s liquor license, which was initially issued outside of city limits and later annexed into the city.
That license has become part of the discussion on additional licenses and previously, Kessel presented four options to possibly address the matter.
The first would be to leave the Queen City Club/Evil Olive Pizzeria & Bar license as is and add a 16th license based on population growth.
A second option would be to eliminate the Queen City Club license as it presently exists and then not issue another license based on population gain.
A third option would be to eliminate the Queen City Club/Evil Olive license, grant it full privileges and issue an additional license based on population gain, effectively increasing from 15 on/off sale licenses to 17.
The last option would be for the Commission to not recognize population gain along with leaving the Queen City Club license as is.
“You can cookie cut it however you want, but you’re not adding one liquor license, you’re adding two,” said Dickinson Attorney Kelly Armstrong, representing Army’s West Sports Bar and Budget Liquors.