CURWENSVILLE – A special hearing to decide if Curwensville Borough should allow the transfer of a liquor license into the borough for Snappy’s Convenience Store was held prior to Monday night’s regular meeting.
A large crowd gathered at the borough building to hear discussion and the council’s decision.
First to speak was Jim Null, owner of The Central Hotel. He said his family has owned the restaurant for 48 years and he was speaking in opposition of bringing in a license from out of the borough when there is one available for purchase from Adam’s Golden Grill.
Null noted that the license for Adam’s is currently in safekeeping, and Adam’s has advertised it for $125,000. Instead, Snappy’s is looking to transfer a license.
Null said currently there are three active licenses for public sale and consumption and one in safekeeping in the borough and the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is to have one license per 3,000 residents.
A fifth license would upset the balance already in place. Null concluded by saying the borough would be in danger of losing two businesses if Snappy’s were permitted to bring in the license.
He added that several years ago, The Central changed its business model to rely less on their alcohol sales, but he is concerned about others.
Aaron Wood also spoke against the license, as the owner of the local distributor on State Street. He said the market is already over saturated and the new license would hurt other businesses.
Francis O’Brien of O’Brien Associates LLC then spoke on behalf of Snappy’s. He said the cost of transferring a license into the borough from outside would cost less than purchasing from Adam’s Golden Grill.
He also explained that he has researched the history of PLCB and the quotas set over the years have changed and the current guideline, created in the 1990s, was a political move pushed by politicians in Philadelphia. There was no requirement for Snappy’s to look into purchasing from within the borough first, he added.
Kevin Carpenter, representative of Snappy’s, also spoke. He said Snappy’s would be selling alcoholic beverages after other establishments were closed, and when asked said the hours would be 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays.
He said the company has a strict policy with employees where they are to card everyone purchasing tobacco or alcohol and also to comply with all other state requirements.
Carpenter answered several questions, noting that they would have seating for 30 people by rearranging the store and adding the seats and small tables, as required by PLCB.
They already have a system of separating areas in place and would make changes in the Curwensville store to meet those requirements.
When asked about parking, he said they have already talked with other businesses, such as Gate’s Hardware, and customers would have needed parking.
Carpenter also said that in their experience the parking requirements are not affected very much as people are generally picking up the drinks, in addition to other items they came in for.
One resident noted that the parking situation at the store is currently inadequate as it is and dangerous. She also said she has witnessed young people purchasing tobacco and not being carded. Carpenter said that was something that would definitely need to be looked into.
Council member Dave Donahue said he personally likes Snappy’s and shops there often. However, he said he has not gotten one phone call supporting the license and other council members agreed, saying they’ve had constant phone calls. Carpenter said the company has had a good response.
“We don’t need another liquor license, we need industry in this town,” said council member Tom Carfley.
Kenn Starr also spoke briefly. Snappy’s would be selling some local wines as part of the plan, including those from Starr Hill Winery.
Starr said the change in legislation recently has been to enhance small business and he sees it as a positive change. He asked what the difference would be between this or a traditional restaurant with a license.
At the start of the regular meeting, the first item on the agenda was to vote on the license transfer. Council member Joe Wills passed out a statement to council members and the press on his thoughts about the license.
He acknowledged the concerns of residents and business owners. He said this is an opportunity for the borough to send the message they are open for fair competition and welcome new businesses. He then motioned to allow the transfer; however, the motion died for lack of a second.
Carfley then motioned to not allow the transfer, and the council voted four to two in support of this motion, with Wills and Robert Moore voting no.
Wills said he felt they were telling people Curwensville did not want new businesses while Carfley reiterated his statement on not needing more alcohol sales but more industry.