Given the quandary Shorewood officials and a new business owner navigated in October, the village gave initial approval Friday to a new grant program aimed at offsetting the hefty $10,000 cost of a reserve Class B liquor license.
When opened its doors in Shorewood last spring, it was issued the village's 14th and last $600 Class B license. State law allots municipalities a set number of Class B licenses and some reserve Class B liquor licenses based on its population, which are required to be sold for no less than $10,000. Class B licenses allow establishments to serve hard liquor, beer and wine.
So when a new Asian restaurant and sushi bar came to town, , it became the first establishment in Shorewood to have to fork over $10,000 for a Class B liquor license, allowing them to open with a full liquor bar.
Shorewood Business Improvement District Executive Director Jim Plaisted said it’s a matter of equality; new businesses shouldn't be penalized just for opening later than another business.
“Someone is going to apply before we have another regular license available,” he said. “We really need to address this.”
In light of this issue, the village's Community Development Authority approved a grant program on Friday to help offset the cost of a reserve license. The Village Board will still need to vote on the measure before it is fully approved.
Under the program, a business seeking a reserve Class B liquor license would pay the $10,000 up front, then apply for the grant. If approved, Shorewood would give the licensee back $9,400, with the village retaining $600 — or the amount Shorewood would charge a business for a regular Class B liquor license.
Officials say several communities statewide are facing similar shortages of Class B licenses and have used similar work-arounds.