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June 30, 2014

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Members Present:          Gaffin, Clements, VanderHeide, Zwarensteyn, DeLuccia, Coughlin, DeBruyn
Members Absent:           Gabrielse, Brandt
Others Present:                Lisa Golder, Economic Development Planner, Akija Hoxha and Alija Maric, Al-Bos

Quota Liquor License application – Al-Bos
Lisa said that the Special Land Use for an establishment serving alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption was reviewed by the City Commission and was approved.  Now the EDC will consider whether to recommend approval of the quota license.  
At the time of consideration of the Special Land Use, several issues were raised, including:
  • Fire Department requirement for a sprinkled building when there is capacity for 100 seats within the restaurant
  • Issue regarding parking—applicant has indicated a need for parking but has not been able to secure an easement. 
  • Sidewalk was not installed on the north side of the building
  • Sign permit issue not addressed
  • Trucking business operating out of the same building- to be relocated in September
With respect to these issues, the following has occurred:
  • Applicant has indicated that they will sprinkle the building
  • Parking actually meets city requirements; if the operations statement is amended then this condition can be removed
  • Sidewalk to 29th Street has been installed
  • One of the sign permits was filled out, although no fee has been received; other sign permit has yet to be received
The issue was opened for discussion. Bob Coughlin asked about additional jobs created.  Mr. Hoxha indicated that possibly 10 new jobs could be created.  Mr. Hoxha was asked if he expanded, would he stay in Kentwood, and he answered that many of their customers are from the Kentwood area and therefore the restaurant would stay in Kentwood.  He was also asked whether there is a draw of people from outside the city.  He was asked what percent of his business is lunch business and how would this change with the liquor license.  He said that 80% of the business is from lunch and 20% for another meal.  The restaurant used to be open for dinner, but without the beer and wine, they found it difficult to justify staying open for that meal.  He said that he would expect a different group of people to come to eat dinner.  The EDC members asked if the liquor license were turned down, would Al-Bos pursue it on their own?  Mr. Hoxha indicated that he would like to but there has been already so much money spent on the restaurant/store that it would make it difficult to afford a liquor license.  He said that business was not doing well and adding the dinner with wine and beer will be helpful.
Bob Coughlin said he was struggling with the economic benefit for this project, as it is uncertain how many jobs will be created.
After additional discussion,
A motion was made by Zwarensteyn with support from VanderHeide to recommend approval of the quota license for Al-Bos Restaurant.
Discussion ensued regarding the application.  Rick Gaffin said that this is similar to a tax abatement in which jobs can be created, or jobs of an existing business can be retained.  Lody said that if there were a large restaurant chain, they would be able to seek and purchase their own liquor license to transfer.  Here we have a home-grown business to the city, and they will realistically have to hire people to accommodate another shift.  The rationale for city approval is stronger than for bigger national restaurant chain.
Dave DeBruyn said that he had a concern when the applicant said that the restaurant was not doing well.  The quota license should not be used as the one thing that will save the business; rather it should make a good business more of a success.  He asked whether Al-Bos planned on a grand opening if the liquor license is obtained so that people will know that this change has taken place.  Mr. Hoxha said customers and people in the community know that Al-Bos is applying for the license and they will know whether it is approved.
Evert said that the city should look not only that the direct jobs created with the new employees, but also the indirect jobs created.
After additional discussion, Earl Clements called the question.
A motion was made with support to recommend approval of the quota license for Al-Bos Restaurant.
                                                                                                                                --Motion Carried, 7-0 —
The meeting was adjourned.