Liquor is headed to retail stores in La Grange

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By Tracy Harris

Liquor is making its way to La Grange store shelves after city council members passed revised alcohol laws Sept. 4.

Now individuals can apply for licenses — but it could be a while before they’re approved, as the state faces a backlog of applications after several cities passed “wet” votes earlier this year.

In July, La Grange voters overwhelmingly supported making the city wet by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The change means grocery and convenience stores will be permitted to sell beer if they have at least $5,000 in other inventory. 

So far, only the Circle K on Ky. 53 has applied.

There will also be three licenses available for package liquor stores, based on La Grange’s population.

Applications for those licenses can be filed beginning today, and must be filed within the next 60 days.

La Grange Police Chief Kevin Collett said there is no pre-approval or guarantee to anyone applying for a package liquor license.

License recipients will be issued by state Alcohol Beverage Control officials, he said, and include site visits.

Collett said, despite rumors, there is no way people opposed to the wet vote will obtain licenses and “sit on them.” Licenses will be revoked if a store doesn’t open for business.

The alcohol expansion also offers restaurant owners more options.

The existing liquor-by-the drink regulation will stay in effect, requiring restaurants to have at least 100 seats and make 70 percent of sales from food items in order to serve liquor.

Beer-only licenses have no seating or food-to-drink requirements. Wine-only licenses have a 50-seat requirement and 50 percent of sales must be from food.

According to the ordinance, business owners will pay annual license fees ranging from $25 to $3,000.

Included are licenses for special events — $25 for beer, $50 for wine, $100 for wine and spirits, all per event. 

This will allow vendors at La Grange events like Oldham County Day or the La Grange Railroad and Antique Festival to sell alcohol.

Fees for restaurant licenses will remain the same, at $600 for wine and spirits and $200 for beer. 

Package liquor store fees will be $600 annually, according to the ordinance.

There are a variety of other licenses in the ordinance, including for private clubs, extended hours, caterers and microbreweries.

Businesses are also be required to pay a 5 percent fee on alcohol sales, previously 2.5 percent.

The city’s 2012-13 budget estimates nearly $24,000 in revenue from fees and licenses. 

Those funds must go into a separate account used for the administration, policing and regulation of alcohol sales.

Some of the increased revenue will pay for a part-time enforcement officer to become full-time, Collett said. 

Alcohol sales are permitted between 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. 

Sunday sales, which require a separate license, are permitted noon to 11 p.m.