Edwards liquor store wins contested license
Chris Irving is sleeping a little better these days. Despite opposition from several liquor store owners in the county, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Irving’s liquor license application Monday. After spending weeks fighting that opposition Irving plans to open drink! inc., described as a fine wine shop, sometime in the next three weeks.”It’s been a very, very interesting few weeks,” Irving said from drink! inc.’s future location in the Edwards Corner building on U.S. Highway 6.While Irving is declaring victory, he said he expects liquor license hearings in the future to be much more complicated than they have been in the past. His attorney, Dan Wolf, agreed.”I think the county commissioners are probably going to be sensitized to this issue in the future,” Wolf said. “The next application that comes forward in the Edwards area is going to face some closer scrutiny than in the past.”
Drink! inc. will be Edwards’ fourth liquor store. Owners of some of the valley’s existing liquor stores expressed concern the addition of Irving’s store may be excessive for a market the size of Edwards. Beverly De Moss, owner of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits, also worried aloud what sort of message children would get, knowing that all four of Edwards’ stores were within walking distance to each other. David Courtney, part-owner of Beaver Liquors in Avon, agreed with De Moss, pointing out that Edwards’ liquor stores outnumber churches. Normally liquor license hearings are a fairly informal process, Wolf said. On the contrary, drink! inc. had multiple hearings for its application and those hearings more closely resembled a courtroom trial, he added. One store, South Forty Liquors, brought an attorney to the first hearing who pointed out how notification of the liquor store application failed to meet legal guidelines. Both sides called witnesses to testify for or against the store.Monday’s hearing was lengthy as well, but in the end, Irving’s request for a liquor license was approved.
“I think that the commissioners were very patient, were thoughtful and allowed everyone to say their piece,” Wolf said.When asked about the county’s decision to approve drink! inc.’s application, De Moss said, “It is what it is.” She declined to elaborate further. Wolf argued the real reason drink! inc. faced opposition was not out moral concerns, but competition – which, he said, the owner stores didn’t want.”I was confident that the board was going to see what we believed to be the true reason behind the opposition from the other liquor store owners,” he said. Irving said drink! inc. wouldn’t compete directly with existing stores, anyway. He doesn’t plan to sell items that are normally carried by local retailers – he wants to sell more obscure wines and hand-crafted beers, he said.
Wolf, who has also worked with local restaurants applying for liquor licenses, said he expects drink! inc.’s experience may establish a new precedent.”It raised the level of formality of these liquor license hearings,” he said. “That may or may not be a good thing.”Staff writer Tamara Miller, based in Vail, Colorado, can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.