What’s next for Madison Co. after voters say ‘yes’ to alcohol sales?

What’s next for Madison Co. after voters say ‘yes’ to alcohol sales?
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Madison County voters voted in favor of the sale of alcohol countywide.

It’s a historic vote because a large part of the county has been dry since the early 1900s.

Before the vote, the city of Richmond was fully wet and Berea was moist, meaning only restaurants could serve alcohol but they had no liquor stores.

At Midway Express in Berea, manager Kamless Patel says he turns away at least 20 people a week who come in thinking they can buy alcohol.

“Sometimes my customers are mad too,” said Patel. “They say ‘Why?’ I say there’s nothing I can do. If you need it, you go to the BP gas station in Richmond.”

Now, that frustration has likely come to an end. According to election results, 67% of the more than 14,000 voters who voted in Madison County voted yes to make the county wet.

Patel says being able to sell alcohol will help his business succeed.

Other residents say it’ll help them save on gas and ease their frustration when they try to find a place near where they live that sells alcohol.

“Richmond could, but Berea couldn’t. It really made no sense to me,” said Johnothan Harris, Madison County resident.

For the last eight months, business owners and residents have been petitioning to get the question on the ballot with hopes that, if it did, the rest of the community would also be on board.

One of the Apollo Pizza locations was in a part of the county that was dry. The co-owner Wesley Browne tells me this vote means he can stay in business.

“Even though it does okay, the effort we pour into this location is so much more and the return is so much less. Now, we’re going to invest in it. Now, we’re going to build something even better,” said Browne.

Browne says a full-service restaurant is what makes them the most profit. When they sell alcohol, they sell more food and people want to stay longer.

“We’ll apply for a license the first day they’re available. It’s a couple months down the road. We hope to be wet here by the end of the summer,” said Browne.

According to Jill Williams, the county’s deputy judge-executive, after the election is certified, it’ll take 60 days before anyone can apply for an alcohol license through the state’s alcoholic beverage control.

Williams also says the county will create an ordinance that’ll align with what Richmond and Berea have in place, but that overall the ABC has the authority.