Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2005

Planned liquor store would be Eudora’s first

November 17, 2005

For the next three months, Mike Fadden is a gambling man.

Right now, the gamble is in the form of an empty store.

He pointed out a bare wine rack and an empty cooler recently. Minutes earlier, he had set up a phone line.

The store, Eudora Wine and Spirits, located on West 20th Street next to Durkin's Hardware and State Farm Insurance, seemed to have him looking forward to the future.

Fadden's future happened sooner than he expected.

He said he and his wife moved to Eudora in May to reduce the time of their collective commutes. He drives to Lawrence, and his wife commutes to a job in Kansas City. Although his wife technically owns the business, he worked to get it ready.

When the Kansas Legislature passed new liquor legislation last spring, which effectively changed Eudora to a "wet" city, he saw a chance.

"I read it and I thought 'whoa,'" Fadden said.

He said he planned to petition for an ordinance to change Eudora's status as a dry city, but the legislation sped up the process and made his effort unnecessary.

Fadden's plan to open the store as soon as Monday came as a surprise and an obvious risk to some who specialize in interpretations of municipal law.

"That makes no sense," said Sandy Jacquot of the Kansas League of Municipalities.

Before Fadden's efforts to procure the license following Nov. 15, when the new legislation went into effect, Jacquot thought no one would attempt to open a store until Feb. 16.

From now until then, the local liquor sales are subject to a protest petition. If a citizen submits a petition with the signatures equivalent of at least 30 percent of the total votes cast in the city for the last general election for secretary of state, the issue would be put to a vote.

"He's taking a risk in investing in that inventory, and putting in all the money it takes to open the business. It is a risk for him," said City Administrator Cheryl Beatty.

Beatty said the city's view on Fadden's store is, until ---- and if ---- a petition is filed, he'd be allowed to operate the liquor store as soon as next week if the state issues him the license.

Fadden said he was confident in his chances of getting a license.

Tom Groneman, director of Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, said he hasn't seen a sharp increase in license applications with passage of the new law.

Before the legislation's passage, 25 cities in Kansas were considered "dry."

"To tell you the truth I don't think there has been a huge increase at this point. I think most places are waiting until after Feb. 15," Groneman said.

As soon as Fadden has the license, he said he would make a few finishing touches to the inside space and start stocking the shelves.

The selection would be basic at first, but if people wanted something special he would try to bring it in, Fadden said.

"Our job is to do the best possible job we can to satisfy the customer," Fadden said.

Fadden said he's fully aware of his gamble.

"That's a risk I'm willing to take to be first," Fadden said.

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