State, city grant first packaged beer licenses

While businesses continue to scramble for the limited supply of package liquor store and tavern licenses available, students and faculty will no longer have to wait for the first beer sales to arrive.

Monday afternoon saw the first legal alcohol transactions in Murray take place inside Five Star Marathon, located at Five Points.

Kendra Clere, sergeant for the Murray Police Department and City Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Administrator for Murray, said while beer would arrive quicker than liquor stores and taverns, citizens could still be waiting for all of the license applications to be approved at the state and city levels.

Just days before becoming a legal distributor of alcohol, Five Star Marathon made a misstep in the process, selling before finalizing both licenses.

Last Friday afternoon, after having been stocked by Miller and Budweiser Distributing Co., Five Star Marathon began erroneously selling alcohol to customers before obtaining its city licensing.

Clere said the entire situation was just a misunderstanding and has already been handled within city jurisdiction.

“Five Star thought that because they already had their state license they could start selling, but they didn’t have their city license,” she said. “Without having their city license and having it posted like it was supposed to be, they technically couldn’t sell because they were in violation with city policies.”

As of Tuesday morning, only Rite Aid, Huck’s, Max Fuel BP and Five Star Marathon had been approved not only at the state level, but also on the city level. Each business began selling by the early afternoon.

More businesses, Clere said, would follow in the coming days, as the city has begun the process of approving licenses and distributing them to the appropriate businesses.

“The state has to send its own ABC Administrators to check the sites where businesses have already applied,” Clere said. “It’s a huge relay that can take anywhere from 30-45 days before the license is applied for and either approved or denied.”

Clere said administrators have not yet arrived to check on all of the convenience stores and gas stations in the area, as each passing day pushes some release dates later into the year.

Because of the lengthy process and intricate litigation, Clere said it would probably be the first of the year before any packaged liquor stores or full taverns were created.

“Most of the applicants are playing a wait and see game,” she said. “They can’t start building yet until they know they’ve been approved.”

With eight retail package licenses (liquor stores) and seven tavern licenses (full bars) up for grabs in the city, Clere confirmed more parties have applied for licenses than are available, and she anticipated more applications to arrive over time.

Beer licenses, however, can be provided to all stores with at least $5,000 in grocery retail who apply and are accepted, proving to be less competitive than retail and tavern licenses.

Though she could not confirm the names of businesses and proprietors who have voiced their intent to apply, Clere did say 15 applications are currently on the table for retail package stores, seven more than is allowed in Murray.

However, six applications have been filed for the tavern license, leaving at least one more available in the event no applications be rejected.

With alcohol sales creeping up on the area, Clere shared some advice for students who are looking forward to the changing scene and availability of alcohol in Murray.

“Even though it is more accessible doesn’t mean it won’t be more enforced,” she said. “Just because we won’t be waiting outside of every establishment doesn’t mean we aren’t watching.”

Matt Gingles, Murray State alum and owner of The Burrito Shack, authenticated his intent to apply for a retail beer license and said he’s looking forward to what it can bring to his restaurant.

“We’re only going to have two or so bottled beers,” Gingles said. “We don’t have enough seats to apply for any liquor sales, and because of the zone laws I can’t apply for a tavern license.”

Asked if he wanted to turn into a party location near campus, Gingles said this is certainly not his intention, as he just wants to provide more choices of beverages with his menu.

“I’m definitely treading in new territory here,” he said. “We are not going to be a bar area or party scene. We’ll have a cooler with a couple of beers and it will be discrete. At the end of the line, you can ask for it and we’ll sell you a beer.”

Hoping to be approved of his license in the coming weeks, Gingles offered a warning to those looking for a crazy time between or after classes.

Said Gingles: “The Burrito Shack is not a place to get drunk.”

Story by Edward Marlowe, Staff writer.