Liquor license program helps juice development in downtown Valpo
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent August 10, 2013 11:04PM
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:36AM
VALPARAISO — When the City Council awarded the last three-way liquor license to Main + Lincolnway restaurant on July 8, it completed one of the projects that re-energized the city’s downtown.
The restaurant, now being built at 210 E. Lincolnway, joins restaurants such as Tommy B’s, The Silver Spoon, Margarita’s and others in the historic downtown when it opens in November or December.
However, others can’t follow unless Valparaiso asks the state legislature again for special consideration in issuing more three-way licenses, which allow restaurants to serve three types of alcohol: beer, wine and hard liquor.
“It was clearly one of the big pieces of the downtown success puzzle,” City Administrator Bill Oeding said.
The city can’t ask for more until the legislature reconvenes, and Oeding isn’t sure it will.
“I’m one to think you can have too many licenses and overstuff the downtown,” Oeding said. “Not every place needs a three-way license.”
Two-way licenses for wine and beer are easier to get. Indiana restricts three-way licenses on the basis of population, having businesses in an area bid for them.
But in 2005, city government and local businessmen petitioned then state Rep. Ralph Ayres and state Sen. Vic Heinold for the additional licenses.
The idea came from Chuck Williams, a local businessman and one-time City Council member.
Williams said he got the idea when a Buffalo Wild Wings moved into the building he owns on Lincolnway. The restaurant delayed opening until it could get a three-way license.
“I saw what that was able to do with the downtown,” William said. “Without the liquor license, restaurants have a harder time succeeding.”
George Djurovic, who is creating Main + Lincolnway, agrees that it helps the business’s chances for success.
“This allows us to function as a restaurant,” Djurovic said.
There are those who still want licenses. Oeding said the city regularly heard from interested parties who ultimately did not secure buildings downtown or follow through.
Laine Kasarda, who approached the city in March about opening a restaurant at 301 Lincolnway, the former used car lot, said she had the form filled out and check to apply for one, but she was discouraged from pursuing it.
The restaurant she planned would be called All Souped Up, an extension of the soup and 50s-diner style food she serves on modified car engine grills at local festivals and car shows. It would also serve the Polish and German fine food that she grew up with, but it’s a strong possibility that she won’t settle in Valparaiso.
“I need to have this revenue,” Kasarda said. “If I have to go back to Lake County, I’ll be more than happy to do so.”