First liquor license issued to Williamsburg restaurant
Hong Kong Buffet became the first restaurant in Williamsburg to receive a liquor license Thursday and it could begin selling alcohol by the drink any time.
"As of Dec. 27, they can legally sell alcohol," said Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison.
Harrison said that the restaurant has to post its licensing number and whose name is on the license in the store window in three-inch letters. The city and state's certification also must be posted on the walls inside.
Then all it has to do is contact distributors and arrange for delivery and how they want to get it set up, Harrison noted.
"As far as being legal, they are totally legal. They are the first ones in Williamsburg," he added.
Harrison, who also serves as the city's alcohol beverage control administrator, said that it was exciting to see the first restaurant approved for alcohol sales.
He admits that it has taken more time than many people, including himself, thought it would for alcohol sales to start.
In March, Williamsburg voters approved the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink in restaurants by a 14-vote margin.
The restaurants must have seating capacity for at least 100 people and derive 70 percent of their profits from food sales in order to serve alcohol.
Harrison said that there is another restaurant in town, which is interested in serving alcohol but is a few seats short of the 100-person seating requirement.
Because of the sluggish economy, Harrison said some restaurants, which were looking to locate in Williamsburg, have backed off for now.
"I have been in contact with others. It is not for a lack of trying," he said.
Harrison also thinks some potential restaurant owners are taking a wait and see approach on whether locals will patronize a restaurant, which serves alcohol.
"It's exciting to finally get started and we'll see what happens," he added.
City officials said they aren't sure how much revenue will be generated by the alcohol tax.
He said the alcohol tax revenues would be put towards administration and policing alcohol sales, which could indirectly mean more general fund dollars that could be spent elsewhere.
For instance, if the alcohol tax generates $10,000, which is put into the police department's budget, then that is $10,000 less the city would have to put into the police department budget from the general fund. City leaders could then take that $10,000 savings in the general fund and use it to build new sidewalks for instance.
Harrison left open the possibility that alcohol tax revenues could be put at least indirectly towards hiring of a full-time school resource officer for the Williamsburg Independent School.
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