Committee examines issues facing approval of expanded alcohol sales hours

Members of the city council’s safety committee met Thursday afternoon at Bardstown City Hall.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, June 13, 2019 — The Bardstown City Council’s safety committee met Thursday afternoon to discuss how to move forward with a plan to allow bars to remain open until 2 a.m. the council members may be willing to approve.

Jerry Lear, representing Xavier’s Bar, Detra Haycraft from Talbott Tavern, and Mike King from 3rd Street Tap House, attended the committee meeting to lobby in favor of allowing bars in the city the option to sell liquor until 2 a.m.

Councilman Bill Sheckles told the committee that if the council had taken a vote at its last meeting — a request to expand alcohol sales hours from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. year-round — the measure would have failed. However, the council members indicated they may consider a compromise to allow bars to stay open on limited number of selected dates.

The Tap House’s Mike King said he would like to see more facts about why selling until 2 a.m. is bad. He said staying open until 2 a.m. would have a “domino effect” by increasing sales at not just the bars, but restaurants and other businesses as well.

“It’s not going to make anybody rich,” he said, adding that for his business, it could mean an additional $120,000 a year.

He discounted polls and discussions on social media that were negative about the proposal, saying that many of those who commented don’t go to bars anyway, and some don’t live in the city.

“But then go look at my Facebook — everybody who is on there is for it,” he said.

He said he has a petition with more than 200 signatures from people who support allowing bars in the city to sell liquor until 2 a.m. He was critical of council members comments at its last meeting, saying that it seemed to be based on opinion. He said he would like to see more facts presented.

Mayor Dick Heaton

Mayor Dick Heaton responded by saying that the information he’s received is more than simple opinion.

“The push-back I’m hearing and the council is hearing is from what is happening downtown in the evenings,” he said. “A lot of this has been observed by the eyes of the council members, myself and the police department.”

Heaton said people have watched men leave the Tap House, walk in the alley and urinate. A member of the media who was taking his garbage out one evening said he witnessed a woman leave the business, walk to a parking lot, drop her pants, and urinate.

Additionally, Heaton said people have posted pictures on social media of minors in the Tap House who were being served and not carded. Heaton said he’s been approached by teachers who have seen high school students being served in the business.

Several weeks ago, Heaton said the bar had corn hole boards set up in the alley next to the business, and patrons were observed playing corn hole in the alley.

Police Chief Kim Kraeszig addresses the committee while Councilman Frankie Hibbs makes notes.

“Those are all violations, and if you all aren’t going to operate within the law, then personally, myself and some of the councilmembers, we can’t be motivated to give you more hours to operate,” Heaton said. “If you can’t get it under control, I personally cannot support it.”

Police Chief Kim Kraeszig said her department still gets a lot of complaints about public drinking at the Tap House and people leaving local bars with alcoholic drinks in hand.

Several citations have been issued to customers of Xavier’s and Cafe Primo who left the establishments with drinks in their hands, she told the committee. It is the responsibility of each bar to make sure their customers don’t leave with drinks in their hands, she said.

Councilman Bill Sheckles, the committee chairman, reminded everyone that the committee meeting was intended to offer an opportunity to offer a compromise request for later hours that the council may find acceptable.

Haycraft offered options that would allow as many as 18 days for 2 a.m. liquor sales, which included multiple days for larger festivals like the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and Buttermilk Days.

Haycrafts option also included the traditional pub crawl nights as well as holidays.

Heaton said he wasn’t sure the council would support that high a number for extended sales.

“I can’t speak for the council, but they seemed sympathetic to some days, but I don’t know that they would be open to allowing this many,” he said.

Councilman Frankie Hibbs offered the bar representative a list of dates that would allow 2 a.m. sales on 10 specific days: three days for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival weekend, three days for the Buttermilk Festival weekend, and one day each for the Arts & Craft Fair, Turkey Kick, New Year’s Eve, and the summer street concert.

Beyond Hibbs’ list, the committee did not vote to make a specific recommendation to the city council. The bar representatives will present the council with a compromise proposal at an upcoming council meeting.


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