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May 27, 2008 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-05-27

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


New liquor licenses prompt talks

Residents, council
discuss criteria for
807 new licenses
For the Daily
To encourage economic growth
throughout Michigan, the state has
issued new liquor licenses to devel-
oping cities. In April, Ann Arbor
was awarded 807 new licenses - a
10-fold increase for the city.
But with only 1,200 businesses in
downtown Ann Arbor, that means
nearly every downtown bookstore,
cafe and shop could potentially get
a license to sell alcohol.
City officials said they won't be
distributing all of the new licenses
allotted by the state and will set
their own requirements for the new
The Ann Arbor City Council's
liquor committee met with com-
munity members last Wednesday to
discuss possible criteria for allocat-
ing the licenses. The city currently
has 73 liquor licenses, and the pros-
pect of hundreds more worries some
Ann Arbor residents.
Roger Hewitt, owner of the
Zanzibar restaurant and Red
Hawk Bar & Grill, both of which
have liquor licenses, said he isn't
worried about the competition
but has other concerns about
adding that many new licenses.
"I don't think we have a police
force that can enforce potentially
a hundred or more new bars," he
Councilmember Leigh Greden
(D-Ward 3), who serves on the
liquor committee, said the com-
mittee is holding public meet-
ings to get input from people like
Hewitt. The public discussion, he
said, would make sure that the
system used is fair and rational.
During the meeting, the liquor
committee took from residents
about how to set additional cri-
teria on top of state requirements
to determine which businesses
would be eligible for the new
"There were certainly some
ideas expressed about hours of
operation, serving food, seating
your patrons, things like that,
and I think those are all good
ideas, but I'm not prepared yet to
say which ones I would support
and which ones I wouldn't," Gre-
den said.
Businesses can qualify for the
"developmental district liquor

licenses" more easily than they
could for the Class-C licenses cur-
rently available in the city, which
are allocated based on population.
To qualify for the new license, the
state requires a business have 50 or
more seats, be open five days a week
for at least 10 hours and have invest-
ed at least $75,000 into its property
in recent years.
The new licenses are far cheap-
er: Class-C licenses cost at least
$75,000 while the new licenses
will be only $20,000.
Mary Campbell, owner of the
Everyday Cook restaurant in Ker-
rytown, does not have a liquor
license. She said competition for
the available licenses and high
price has made a Class-C license
out of her reach.
"We've been working on try-
ing to get (a Class-C license) for
a long time and the ones on the
market have gone up dramati-
cally because you have really big
players," Campbell said. "They
can spend more. They have deep
These "big players" are nation-
al chains willing to pay more for
liquor licenses and push the pric-
es above $100,000, she said.

Councilmember Mike Anglin (D-
Ward 5), who serves on the liquor
committee, said the new licenses
are aimed toward making small
businesses more profitable.
"I think it's going to be helpful
to the small business person who
needs a little boost in their business
without having so much money," he
Campbell agreed that having one
of the new licenses would help her

business. But for her, the question
becomes when they will be made
available. Anglin said the commit-
tee was trying to move quickly but
that there was no timeline for mak-
ing the licenses available.
"If it looks as though that they're
not going to put this through within
the next few weeks, then I'm just
going start making plans (to close),"
she said. "I can't lose any more

* In a news story in the
May 19 issue of The Michigan
Daily (Leopold Bros. closes doors)
History Prof. Matt Lassister
was incorrectly identified
as an English professor.
Please report any error
in the Daily to:
at michigandaily.com

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