Licensing Commission Approves One Liquor License Upgrade, Holds Off on Second Request

The Licensing Commission approved one all-alcohol license, and held off on issuing a second at its monthly meeting last week.

The commission voted unanimously to issue the all-alcohol license to El Kiosco Restaurant at 212 Broadway.

That restaurant received a beer and wine restaurant back in the spring.

According to Jeff Turco, the attorney representing the restaurant, the owners can try to sell that beer and wine license within the next six months. If unsuccessful, they will have to return it to the city so that they don’t have a so-called “pocket license” that goes unused.

Police Chief Keith Houghton said there have been no issues with El Kiosco since they’ve had the beer and wine license.

Councilor-At-Large Leo Robinson spoke in favor of approval of the all-alcohol license.

“They run a very good business, and I’ve been there quite a few times,” said Robinson. “Sometimes, when you go out to dinner, you like to have a martini or a Dewars on the rocks, and I feel like when I go there, I’m a little cheated because I can’t get that. But it is a great place to go; a very clean place and a very friendly place.”

While all the commissioners said they support the application of Kushala Sip Coffee for an all-alcohol license on Pearl Street, they have held off on issuing the license because the city is waiting for approval of a home-rule petition in the state legislature which would require requests for proposals for the city’s five new all-alcohol licenses. Those licenses would, in turn, be returned to the city if a business no longer uses them, as opposed to the regular licenses in the city which can be sold by businesses.

Several commissioners said they would like to see an approval for Kushala, which was before the commission in the spring and gained positive remarks for its business plan.

Commissioner Mike McAteer made a motion to approve the liquor license at last week’s meeting, but there was no second and the motion failed.

“I don’t feel right holding this person up for a license,” said McAteer.

Commission member Emily Cherniack said she was also concerned about holding up the license, but noted that the business is still under construction and suggested the commission wait another month to see if the state legislature gets any closer to approving the home rule petition.

Commission Chair Marnie MacAlpine said she had some concerns with approving the liquor licenses before the legislature approves the home rule petition that would give the city greater control over the licenses.

“We are not doing what we said we would be doing by giving those licenses out prior to (state approval),” she said.

MacAlpine said that the commission knew when it began accepting requests for proposals that the home rule petition likely wouldn’t pass through the legislature until the fall. She said over the next month, the commission could do further research on where the legislation stands as well as check on the status of the Kushala construction and planned opening date.

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