Harrodsburg diner first to apply for liquor license

December 07, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - It's now called Ann's Family Restaurant, but by mid-January, owner Phyllis Hurst plans to reopen the popular College Street eatery as Rookies Bar and Grill.

Why the change?

It's simple: liquor by the drink. The city's voters said yes on the fourth effort to make the sale of alcohol legal here.

While the approval by the voters is the vital step toward serving alcohol in qualifying restaurants, it is just the first step and the only person to begin the process in earnest is Hurst.

After Harrodsburg City Commission gave final approval to the ordinance establishing the process for obtaining a liquor license on Nov. 25, Hurst took the next step, which is advertising in the local newspaper her intention to seek a liquor license.


When that ad appeared in Thursday's paper, she cut it out and added it to the state permit application and sent it to Frankfort. In the meantime, work will be done on the building to bring it into compliance of state and local regulations for the sale of alcohol by the drink.

Hurst purchased Ann's - both the business and the name - from Ann Watts in September 1997. After she decided to change the nature of the business, it took a while to come up with a name. "We'll be rookies and we'll learn as we go," she said.

Restaurants selling liquor by the drink must seat at least 100 people and 70 percent of their income must be from the sale of food.

The 100 seat requirement may be a problem for at least two of the restaurants whose personnel have expressed interest in purchasing a liquor license.

Rafael Ayala, manager of LaFonda's, said Saturday that the restaurant he oversees only seats 75 people and if it can expand into a vacant building next door and south of LaFonda's, then they will seek a license.

Two other restaurants, Beaumont Inn and Dos Hermanos, have inquired at City Hall with City Clerk Lorene Hembree, who is the local Alcohol Beverage Control administrator. Dos Hermanos could not be reached by telephone.

Innkeeper Chuck Dedman has outlined his plans for selling liquor by the drink at historic Beaumont Inn. He will be beaten to the start by Hurst because the inn traditionally closes late in December and does not reopen until March.

In the meantime, Dedman said, he will go through the process of gaining a liquor license and build a service bar in the back of the restaurant. It will not be available to customers, but rather it will be the location from which waiters and waitresses will get the ordered drinks and serve them to customers. As for a traditional bar, Dedman has other plans.

He plans to remodel one of the rooms in the restaurant for more casual dining. "We'll have a small bar and wine cellar in there," he said. That room will not be ready in March; it is in the plans for the future.

All restaurants planning to sell liquor by the drink must meet not only the required seating capacity, but must also meet local and state building requirements.

Once the local planning and zoning board approves site survey prepared by an engineer or architect, the plan must be sent to the Department of Housing, Building and Construction for its approval before construction begins.

A restaurant seating 100 or more people and which has a building area of 1,500 square feet falls under state jurisdiction. The state will make inspections and issue permits, both for building and plumbing plans.

People serving liquor must take a six-hour training class to learn how to recognize people who are intoxicated, as liquor cannot be sold to someone intoxicated and that person must leave the premises.

Hurst said she hopes all of these requirements and more will be met by mid-January and Rookies will be ready to open by then. She plans to adopt the same hours as are allowed by the local ordinance, 6 a.m. to midnight. Three people have already applied to be bartenders. She will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight. She currently closes her restaurant at 8 p.m. Liquor sales on Sunday are not allowed.

Officially, Harrodsburg becomes moist on Jan. 8, but Hurst said a beer distributor said it sometimes takes the state longer than that to go through all of the inspections and paperwork to allow liquor to be sold.

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