A step toward remodelingPublished 10:55am Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Council supports Hy-Vee liquor licensing exemption
The Austin City Council is looking to give Hy-Vee of Austin a break on its licenses ahead of the store’s upcoming expansion.
Council members preliminarily approved liquor licensing requests from Hy-Vee as it prepares to build a 22,000-square-foot expansion to its Austin store in early 2014.
Hy-Vee officials sought an updated liquor license for its upcoming 5,000-square-foot restaurant, as well as a license to serve alcohol as part of its catering services.
Under city code, businesses and people can’t hold more than one license, which means a business can’t sell alcohol and serve it during catered events.
City officials say they’ve heard previous requests from Hy-Vee and other businesses to loosen these restrictions. When catering, those businesses need to have their clients obtain permission to serve alcohol.
“We’ve heard this a lot from people who approach us,” City Clerk Ann Dunlap said. “It’s kind of a lot of hoops to jump through.”
The city also doesn’t have a policy concerning catering licenses. Most businesses apply directly to the state for a license, but cities may additionally regulate catering through licenses.
Hy-Vee representative Mike Waller told the council the expanded liquor services were part of a company-wide restructuring over the next few years to offer similar services at many of its stores. Waller and Dunlap both told the council many cities allow businesses to possess more than one license concerning liquor.
“We’re trying to offer a round, culinary experience here,” Waller said.
The upcoming expansion would cost $7 to $10 million and bring the store up to 82,000 square feet. Aside from a full-service restaurant, Hy-Vee officials also plan to put in an expanded kitchen area with Chinese and Italian dishes, a sushi bar, smoked meats, calzones, gelato, a chef demonstration area, a remodeled storefront, a pharmacy drive-through, and expanded parking, among other amenities.
Council members appear receptive to reviewing its license policy.
“They’re putting their trust in Austin to add onto their store, and to have continual support,” Council Member Judy Enright said.
The council will discuss the issue at its next meeting.