Resort cities seek more restaurant liquor licenses

Resort cities seek more restaurant licenses

Idaho Falls, Idaho - The restaurants in Driggs are hoping to add more of a selection in alcoholic beverages to help draw in more tourists.

"It's hard surviving in a small town," said Dennis Dunann, owner of Alpine Wines.

Dunann has been the owner of Alpine Wines for a year and a half. Although most customers come in for a glass of wine, "I have women that come in here looking for a glass of wine but her husband wants a gin and tonic, and that's when they leave," said Dunann.

Dunann can't serve hard liquor. The trouble is, Driggs is a resort city -- tourists flock in and out of the city due to year-round activities. And Mayor Dan Powers understands the frustration restaurant owners are facing.

"We have 19 restaurants and only two liquor licenses. That's the most we're allowed to issue under state statute," said Powers.

In the state of Idaho, hard-liquor licenses are granted based on a city's population. For every 1,500 people, one hard liquor license can be issued.

"We don't get another license until we hit 3,000. We would have to almost double in size," said Powers.

Teton Thai co-owner Ryan Hayworth says the lack of liquor licenses to all restaurants also puts Driggs in competition against other resort towns.

"Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana; and the more that we can have these amenities, that tourists want to see and visitors that come to the resort, it just offers more to them," said Hayworth.

That's why a new bill for resort cities to acquire more hard liquor licenses is being proposed in the state legislature. The bill would scrap the population requirement, and allow all restaurants to apply for a license.

If the bill passes, then city officials would be next to approve restaurant liquor licenses.

Mayor Powers says he is in favor of the measure because it'll help boost the local economy.

Under the proposal, restaurants in Driggs and other resort towns that get 60 percent revenue from food could get a license to serve cocktails, but only when meals are served. 

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