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March 23, 2013

High Spirits

Negotiating with ABC is whiskey business, but city officials have nothing to wine about

Somerset —  

At least one team with the name “Wildcat” had a big day Thursday.
While the basketball ‘Cats were sitting at home watching the NCAA Tournament from afar, the first store in Somerset to officially receive the licenses it needed to open was Wildcat Beer, Wine, and Spirits.
Located at 775 South U.S. 27., the store got its Retail Liquor Package license from the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, and the accompanying permit from the City of Somerset at 2:45 that afternoon.
“We’re excited about it,” said owner Chris Daniels, whose wife Maria will be running the store. “We’re businesspeople, and we saw what we thought was a good business opportunity.”
So who’s next? Maybe more than just four additional licenses to go.
On Friday, officials from the City of Somerset — including Mayor Eddie Girdler, Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Administrator Nick Bradley, and City Attorney Carrie Wiese, as well as attorney Charles Cole of Lexington — visited with state ABC personnel in Frankfort to address the city’s plea for more than five available liquor store licenses.
The hearing “went remarkably well,” according to Girdler. “We got very positive feedback from the ABC board and commissioner.”
Girdler said that it would “probably be sometime early next week” before they learn what the state has decided.
The hour-long PowerPoint presen-tation made Somerset’s case to increase upon the five quota licenses the state granted Somerset in January. Kentucky law allows cities like Somerset — which went “wet” last June, permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages — only a certain number of retail liquor package licenses (relating mainly to liquor stores, selling products like wine and distilled spirits) and retail liquor drink licenses (relating primarily to bars and nightclubs). 
State officials hold all the cards: They determine how many “quota” licenses of each a city is allowed, and then decide which businesses get them, based on the applications.

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