Mixed drink sales to be permitted in Lane County

11/15/2012

CORRECTION: The original version of this article had an incorrect spelling of the name of Lane County Commission Chairman Jon Risley.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article had an incorrect spelling of the name of Lane County Commission Chairman Jon Risley.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Lane County is no longer dry, at least in terms of liquor-by-the-drink.

In the Nov. 6 election, Lane County residents voted, 476-401, to allow liquor-by-the-drink to be sold in public places within the county without the requirement that any portion of that establishment's gross receipts be from sales of food.

Prior to the vote, liquor-by-the-drink, or mixed drinks, were only allowed to be served in members-only clubs, such as Dighton's American Legion. Karen Duncan, Lane County deputy clerk, said that allowing liquor-by-the-drink takes away this requirement, opening the option up to any food or bar establishment.

Lane County Commission Chairman Jon Risley said that Lane County had been a dry county for as long as he could remember.

"So we were urged to talk about it and we put the vote out to see what the folks wanted to do," Risley said, adding that the commission wanted to allow residents to decide.

Now that the votes have been cast, it's up to the owners of the given establishments whether or not they want to serve drinks.

The Dighton Bowl and Diner, 530 E. Long St., has always sold 3.2 beer, also called low-point or light beer due to its 3.2 percent alcohol by weight content, at their establishment, so co-owner Kimberly Capra doesn't foresee the new law having much of an impact on their business.

"We're really not expecting too big of a difference for us. Our clientele — I mean, the restaurant is kind of the main draw in that business and we just get a lot of the local, older people and they aren't real big drinkers," Capra said. "We have a 3.2 license and they have beer at the bowling leagues during the week, but I'm really not expecting it to be a big thing for us at all."

Capra said that she and co-owner husband Doyle Capra had discussed the possibility of getting a full-blown liquor license but decided not to because she didn't feel that it would attract new customers away from their customary watering holes.

Another location in Dighton, The Hornet's Nest, 132 E. Long St., is an alcohol-free establishment, so owner Joe Schultz said the new ordinance won't have an effect on his sales either, but that he was in support of it.

"It could be a positive for our community — any way we could generate business," he said, adding that the real impact will come if someone opens a new establishment in the area.

Up until the vote, Lane County was one of 18 other Kansas counties that did not allow liquor-by-the-drink. According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, there are currently 25 other counties that have the same ordinance on their books, allowing liquor-by-the-drink without the requirement that any portion of their gross receipts be from sales of food. Finney County is one of 61 other counties that allow liquor-by-the-drink in establishments that earn 30 percent of their gross sales in food.

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