LETTER: Speak up on liquor licenses
I recently requested state Rep. Stan Saylor, state Sen. Scott Wagner and Gov. Tom Wolf to initiate a change to the state's policies regarding the numbers of liquor licenses made available to restaurants, in hopes of providing an opportunity for restaurant owners in Windsor Township to obtain a license and to serve the desires of residents as indicated by the recent vote to permit alcohol in the township.
I pointed out the immediate economic benefits of doing so, such as increased restaurant sales, tourism, jobs and tax revenues.
Stan Saylor responded with, "Most current restaurant owners do not support an increase in the number of available licenses; nor do they support removing the quota system. Many of these restaurants are simply small businesses and the owners are using their liquor license as a means of retiring. These owners have already paid a private entity a large sum of money for the license; and at the very least, need to recover their purchase price in order to be able to retire. If we increase the number of licenses available, that decreases the value of their license. If we remove the quota system, these small business owners will not be able to sell their licenses and recoup their cost."
In other words, "most current restaurant owners," meaning those who have liquor licenses, do not want additional competition.
In truth, buying a liquor license, if you can, is a cost of doing business, and having a liquor license enhances your restaurant's business and value. This cost may be expensed, just as labor, fixtures and other costs are expensed.
I do not buy the argument that the liquor license value is what a restaurant owner is counting on for retirement. It is a sad restaurant that is competitive just because they have a liquor license and their competition does not.
If Rep. Saylor is so concerned that this is the case, then the state should place a fixed value to the license and/or guarantee that any restaurant owner seeking to retire from the business be able to sell his license back to the state for a set price.
The current policy of a fixed number of licenses and the existing quota system favors those who currently own licenses and prevents the state, county and township from realizing economic benefits from expanding the pool of licenses to areas where they did not exist before.
I would like to see Windsor Township restaurant owners, and others, respond to this letter and really voice their concerns. If the people do not speak up, it may be decades before we see a restaurant in Windsor Township with a liquor license.