First Harrodsburg liquor license issued

March 21, 2004|ANN HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - The first license to sell liquor by the drink in this city has been issued.

Beaumont Inn received the license just a week after a state official announced a there would be no licenses issued until the completion of litigation in a lawsuit requesting the election be overturned.

"We're delighted," said Innkeeper Chuck Dedman. "It's been a long time coming and we think it will be a great thing for the community."

There may yet be some stumbling blocks along the way. City Administrative Officer Ed Music said Harold Robinson, distilled spirits administrator for the state Alcohol Beverage Control, told him March 11 that there would be no licenses issued until litigation in the matter has run its course.


Dan Gahafer, the ABC's press spokesman, said on March 11 Robinson was under the impression a ruling on a lawsuit had been repealed. It had not.

More than a month after city voters approved the sale of liquor by the drink by a 17-vote margin, four men filed suit to stop the sale of liquor licenses. The lawsuit was filed by Carl Toth, William Toth, Mark Gray, August Properties LLC, and Mark Edwards and Lees Inc.

Carl and William Toth are residents of Harrodsburg and the lawsuit says both men voted in the election. Edwards and Gray do not live in the city, but have businesses here, the lawsuit says. Only registered city voters were allowed to vote on the issue.

The key claim of the lawsuit is that the vote did not follow the law governing local option elections. The law says elections cannot be held any more often than three years. The city rejected the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink in the general election on Nov. 7, 2000. The General Election in which the "wet" side prevailed was held on Nov. 4, 2003, three days shy of the three-year requirement.

Mercer Circuit Judge Darren Peckler ruled on Feb 12 that the election was valid, saying "the court should not set aside an election 'due to slight irregularities.'"

While Peckler's ruling had not been appealed by March 11, Gray said Friday that the plaintiffs' are appealing. However, no notice of appeal has been filed in the office of Mercer Circuit Clerk Rose Bishop's office.

While the first license has been issued, Dedman said the restaurant is not quite ready to serve alcohol. To begin with, a license must be issued before a restaurant can purchase alcoholic beverages from a distributor and the inn just received its license on Thursday.

Dedman said the service bar from which drinks will be served is not quite complete. All of the necessary equipment has been ordered but not all of it has arrived. The restaurant is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for large tourist groups.

Dedman said some changes may be made at the inn, including adding a place and menu for more casual dinners and changes in the days the restaurant is open. That work has not yet begun. ``We're going to start off slow,'' he said.

However, Dedman said he plans for the restaurant to be ready to sell alcohol by the drink later this week.

One restaurant owner is almost as happy as Dedman that the first license has been issued. "That's awesome," said Phyllis Hurst, owner of Ann's Family Restaurant when told the inn has its license. "I'm glad to hear it.

"An inspector was here Friday and everything was fine. We passed inspection and everything. We're ready to go as soon as we get our license." When Hurst's business gets its license, it will reopen as Rookies' Bar and Grill.

A third restaurant is making plans to seek a license. Jim Tanner, the owner of the building adjacent to La Fondas Mexican restaurant, said last week that the restaurant's owner has purchased his building. The expansion will give the restaurant room to seat at least 100, one of the requirements for selling liquor by the drink.

Lorene Hembree, Harrodsburg city clerk and the city's ABC administrator, said so far only one license has been issued and that was to the inn.

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