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Restaurant owners share opinions about expanding liquor licenses in town
Updated on: 05.09.13

Nashville restaurant owners who attended Tuesday’s public hearing spoke generally in favor of creating a riverfront district downtown that could enable the issuing of new liquor licenses.

The possibility of competition from new restaurants didn’t seem to bother them as much as the reality of losing customers to alcohol unavailability.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people leave. I had a 30-top last Sunday, came in from a wedding, everyone left. And that’s $300-$400 gone,” said Michelle Kritzer, who owns Casa Del Sol Mexican restaurant and doesn’t have a liquor license. “… I can’t tell you how many times a week that’s happened. … They’re not wanting to get hammered. … Most people just want to have a couple of beers, a glass of wine or a margarita with their dinner.”

Kritzer is one restaurateur who could benefit from the creation of a Nashville riverfront district, an idea the Nashville Redevelopment Commission is considering. Tuesday night was the first formal public hearing on the concept, in which RDC members wanted to gather public input before making any more moves to pursue or abandon it. The commission has been talking about the concept in its regular meetings since last fall.

Creating a riverfront district could allow the RDC, with the final approval of Nashville Town Council, to give letters of support for more liquor licenses than the state allows by population. They would only be available to businesses within 1,500 feet of the first buildable land along Salt Creek, with restrictions on businesses near churches and schools. Letter holders could then apply for a license with the state, and those license holders would have to show they abided by the RDC’s guidelines in order to get the license renewed each year.

The intent is not to create a “whiskey row,” said RDC President Ric Fox. Nor is it to bring in many new restaurants. The intent is to help existing restaurant owners become more successful, he said.

RDC member Lucy McGrayel, principal at Van Buren Elementary, pointed out that district enrollment has dropped by more than 500 students in the past 10 years or so.

If enabling more liquor licenses means more successful businesses, she asked if the community would be in favor of the concept.

“Every child that we lose means that it’s a family that’s gone, which means our community is shrinking away,” she said. “We don’t want to be just a retirement community. I want more people to call this home. And if people can come here and get a job or start a business … and raise their family here … liquor license or not, we need to develop the economy of Nashville so we get more people here.”

One lifelong Brown Countian said she doesn’t think introducing more alcohol or even more restaurants is the way to go. She fears that too much competition for tourists is what has hurt the downtown business corridor already.

“You need to go back to what we started with and build up the colony part of it … like Conner Prairie,” said Beverly Hynes, referring to the pioneer village in Fishers. “… Because in years to come, that’s not going to be anyplace. … That’s what Nashville’s all about, not booze.”

Read more details in the Brown County Democrat.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

Obituaries
See Full List »

Melody L. Estes, 56, North Vernon
  Sister of Shawna (Brian) Lowe of Brown County

Geneva Holder, 88, Sebring, Florida
  Brown County native

Larry D. Underwood, 53, Columbus
  Brother of Rob (Laura) Underwood of Nashville

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