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Village Gives Initial OK to Grant Program Offsetting $10,000 Liquor Licenses

With Shorewood currently out of regular Class B liquor licenses and forced to charge $10,000 for reserve permits, village officials seek to avoid discouraging prospective Shorewood business owners with excessive fees.

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.

Absolutelyfabulous May 08, 2012 at 03:33 AM
What are the parameters for "approval" in a business receiving the grant monies? It seems that unless there are assurances up front, which I'm sure Asian Fusion was given and then it backfired publically, a business could be caught short by paying the $10,000 licensing fee and seek approval and possibly be denied. Also, are there any conditions tied to this "grant"? Restaurants have the highest failure rate of any business. So, what happens when a business is approved and possibly goes out of business a couple of years later and then another restaurant operator comes in seeking the same grant to get the license reinstated in the space?
J B May 08, 2012 at 12:24 PM
How are these grants going to be funded? Through property taxes? If a business doesn't have a solid business plan, it should fail.
Greg May 08, 2012 at 09:34 PM
If the license is held current it should transfer. If it lapses a new fee would need to be paid.
Absolutelyfabulous May 08, 2012 at 11:59 PM
If the license is held current? I take that as you meaning when one operator goes out then another one is ready to jump in and take over the operations w/out interruption..Does this include if the business coming into the space changes it's name as well; ie Tina's Tacos and now Bob's Burgers? If that is the train of thought then my question is how many restaurants go out of business and the space stays vacant for a while and still when the space/s are ultimately leased out there is a delay because the new tenant is retrofitting the space for their own specific use. Just jump on over to Silver Spring in WFB right next to the Fox Bay Theater where they have restuarant spaces that are constantly rotating operators because none of them can stay in business and currently there are 2 empty spaces right next to each other. I don't believe something can stay current unless someone is continuously operating and the fees are paid.

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