Raising the bar

Hannah Fowl/The News People watch TV at Nick’s Sports Pub, a popular spot to drink in Murray.
Photo courtesy of imgkid.com

Photo courtesy of imgkid.com

$1,602,664: the amount of alcohol sales revenue since Murray became a wet city within dry Calloway County.

      395 percent: the increase in revenue since changing from moist to wet. Prior to the law changing, annual regulatory fees produced roughly $145,000 for the city. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, regulatory fees totaled to $572,586.

   Revenue continued to rise in the 2013-14 fiscal year, bringing in $1,030,078.

    This revenue is from an 8 percent regulatory fee placed on the sale of alcohol, which goes to law enforcement to help pay the cost of enforcement, regulation and administration of alcohol laws in the city.

   Kendra Clere, Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, Administrator for the City of Murray, said she predicts the 2014-15 fiscal year will produce comparable numbers.

   According to the City of Murray’s website, 12 percent of the 2015 fiscal year’s general fund operating budget is based on alcohol sales fees. This is the third highest contributor, behind only property and insurance tax.

Restaurants, bars, convenience stores and package stores all contribute to this grand total and are accountable for certain regulations based on the type of liquor license they operate under.

When Murray was a moist city, restaurants had to adhere to a 70:30 food to alcohol sales ratio, Clere said. Now, they must follow a 50:50 ratio and local popular restaurants such as Mr. J’s Grill and Pub, Nick’s Sports Pub and Agave all follow this licensure.

Additionally, bars, restaurants and package stores are not permitted to sell alcohol on Sunday and even despite the large increase in regulatory fee revenue the law will probably stay that way, Clere said.

Hannah Fowl/The News People watch TV at Nick’s Sports Pub, a popular spot to drink in Murray.

Hannah Fowl/The News
People watch TV at Nick’s Sports Pub, a popular spot to drink in Murray.

James Hutchens, owner of Mr. J’s Grill and Pub, said he chooses not to open up his restaurant on Sundays because of the limitations of liquor laws. If the restaurant were to be open on Sundays, food could be served but liquor bottles and beer taps would all have to be covered and locked up.

All establishments operating under restaurant licenses are required to follow the same restrictions if they choose to serve food on Sundays. Some restaurants, such as Applebee’s, remain open while others close their doors.

“It’s too big of an ordeal to cover and lock everything up,” Hutchens said.

Hutchens said the business does well enough other days of the week that the legislation doesn’t impact the business much, and he does not typically have problems meeting the 50:50 ratio required by law.

“I see why they don’t allow it and I see why they should,” Hutchens said. “I’ll go either way. I think overall they should just do what’s best for the community.”

Story by Lucy Easley, Staff writer