County voters asked to relax liquor by the drink
The liquor by the drink initiative on the Nov. 2 Leavenworth County ballot was two years in the making, long enough for circumstances to change for one of its original supporters.
David Van Parys, Leavenworth County counselor, said county commissioners agreed to put the question on the ballot in September 2008 at the request of several local businesses. But the measure must be approved during a general election and the request was not made in time to get the question on the November 2008 ballot, he said.
The state allows liquor by the drink in private clubs and in restaurants that earn at least 30 percent of the revenue from food sales, Van Parys said. But the state also allows a county to have a referendum on removing the percentage requirement from restaurants, which is what the Nov. 2 question would do if approved by voters.
Patrick Paden, owner of Fatheads Irish Pub in Leavenworth, was one of the local business owners who asked for the change. But things have changed in the last two years, and Paden no longer has interest in taking advantage of the change should the measure be approved. He now wants Fatheads to remain a private club so it can continue to allow smoking.
Nonetheless, Paden said he still supports the change for the overall good for the county.
“Smaller restaurants that also sell alcohol could benefit,” he said. “Some people look down on liquor-by-the-drink changes because they think it makes alcohol more accessible, but that’s not what this is about.”
Matt Bichelmeyer, owner of Bichelmeyer’s Steakhouse in Tonganoxie, said he had little interest in the issue because it wouldn’t change anything at his restaurant.
“We’re primarily a family restaurant,” he said. “We are at such a low liquor-by-the-drink percentage, it’s nothing we are concerned about.”