Fox Hole and Crowbar to be Issued Retail Liquor Licenses
Two new establishments were chosen as the recipients of retail liquor licenses by the Laramie City Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday night. The council voted 5-3 to award a license to Fox Hole Enterprises, LLC and 7-1 to award the second available license to The Crowbar and Grill, LLC.
Mayor Scott Mullner recused himself because he is a part of the Fox Hole corporation. Councilor Joe Vitale and a member of the public raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety. City attorney Dave Clark said there has been no violation of ethics and that there is no conflict of interest because Mullner has removed himself from the proceedings and participated only as an applicant.
City clerk Sue Morris-Jones also assured the council that all applications had been approved by the state liquor commission. Several councilors pointed out that Mullner has not contacted them or spoken to them about a liquor license outside of the public meetings in which he participated only as an applicant.
"I'm not voting for the mayor," Councilor Karl McCraken said. "I'm voting for the building, to fill a hole."
The building would replace the Fox Hole Theater, which was torn down several years ago. Conditions on the awarding of the permit to the Fox Hole include that a three-story building be constructed with a "certificate of occupancy" issued to the restaurant on the main floor within two and a half years, that the building is designed to resemble its historical facade and architecture (that of the original Empress Theatre), and that the building be completed within Laramie Main Street's guidelines for development. The retail liquor license will remain with the City of Laramie until these condition are met.
Councilors McCraken, Lee Kempert, Dave Paulekas, Joe Shumway and Erik Molvar voted for the motion to award the license to Fox Hole. Councilors Vitale, Roger McKinley and Klaus Hanson voted against it.
The decision about to award a permit to The Crowbar and Grill was much quicker. Several councilors mentioned the hard work put in by owners Andrew Glines and Justin Turner to renovate their space downtown. Molvar mentioned that the Crowbar will add an establishment downtown that will serve food late into the night. Only councilor McKinley voted against the license going to the Crowbar. The conditions set on the issuance of the license include that renovations be completed within two years and the Main Street guidelines are followed. The Crowbar is tentatively set to open within the month.
An initial motion to award a license to Bailey's of Laramie, LLC failed with only three yes votes. Councilor Hansen said Baileys should get a permit because it would go to a responsible, established business owner and could give a boost to the East side of town. Molvar said that while he thinks Bailey's is a worthy operation, he did not think the catering and patio expansion rose to the level that warranted the granting of a retail liquor license. During the discussion, other councilors spoke to the difficulty of the decision before them.
"I don't believe there is a bad applicant before us." Shumway said. "I believe everyone of them have a great deal to offer, not only to the community, but also they'll be very responsible with this license. So when I say not, and if I say no, to four of the six, I don't want those four out of the six to think I don't think they're proposal has merit, because they all do. I think we have a big responsibility to make sure we select the individuals, or the corporations, or whoever takes this, to be the most responsible and the one that would benefit the community the most."