Jacksonville Liquor Store Owners Apply for Modified “Pouring Licenses” in Effort to Add Gaming Following Grocery Store Decision

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 1, 2023 at 5:04pm

A Jacksonville business owner is seeking to modify their current liquor licenses now that grocery stores are allowed to sell hard liquor in the city.

Mayor Andy Ezard informed the City Council last week that Gary Singh has requested a modification for the licenses of his three Jacksonville liquor stores.

Singh and his wife own Top Shelf, The Party House, and Dunlap Court Beverages in Jacksonville. They along with some of their management staff spoke to the council in early October against granting Hy-Vee a request to sell hard liquor saying small locally owned liquor stores could not compete with larger chain stores’ price margins.

The council would end up passing the change by a 5 to 3 vote with two members abstaining during the meeting. Singh is now asking to modify the licenses so they can add gaming to his locations.

Ezard, who is also the city liquor commissioner, says this will be a tough issue for the council. “I knew there would be a lot of different moving parts after we granted Hy-Vee a full liquor license where they could sell spirits, and I’ve got pending applications on my desk of current liquor license holders that would like to move classifications to allow them to have what is considered a pouring license which is a state rule to have gaming.

So I think their intent is, and they spoke at this for a while at the last meeting, is we need a new revenue stream to help, and they feel that gaming would be appropriate in a liquor store.”

If granted, liquor stores in Jacksonville would be allowed to serve a certain amount of alcohol for consumption on the premises like a tavern. The council had a lengthy discussion during last week’s workshop on what the change would look like and how it would work.

Ezard says it will ultimately mean having to create a new class of liquor licenses in the city of Jacksonville. “This was purely discussion. The council also gave us somewhat of a direction on what we need to research. But I think at the end of the day it would be a new classification of license.

It will also I think down the line, the tavern and bar owners themselves with the service organizations that have gaming, will have a say and some input on what they would like to see which could be completely different than what the liquor store owners want.”

Ezard says he anticipates there will be a lot more discussion by the council before any kind of decision can be made on the request.