Alcohol sales issue hits ballot

BELPRE – In an effort to expand offerings to customers, the owners of Napoli’s Italian Feast are asking voters in the restaurant’s district to pass two issues.

During the upcoming primary election on May 6, voters in Belpre’s 2A voting district will have the option to allow the restaurant, located at 713 Main St., to add liquor to its menu as well as sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

Five years after becoming the first establishment in the city of Belpre to legally sell alcohol since the United States instigated Prohibition in 1920, the Wal-Bon Corporation is asking to expand on what it is allowed to sell.

Currently, the restaurant is licensed to sell beer, wine and pre-packaged malt beverages, such as wine coolers.

The ballot issues include the option for a D-3 permit to sell spirituous liquor, which the State of Ohio lists as any intoxicating liquors containing more than 21 percent of alcohol by volume, and the option for a D-6 license that will allow the restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages between 11 a.m. and midnight on Sundays.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, the D-3 license is for a retail food establishment or food service operation to sell spirituous liquor by the individual drink, for consumption on premises. The D-6 permit, if passed, will allow all of the intoxicating beverages sold at that location to be sold on Sundays.

Alcohol sales in Belpre are a relatively new occurrence as the first beer sold in decades in the city limit was on Feb. 5, 2010, at the Napoli’s restaurant on Main Street. Since the locally-owned restaurant was the first to have the approval of voters, several more businesses including Kroger on Washington Boulevard, Speedway stores on Farson Street and Washington Boulevard and Go-Mart at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Main Street have added alcohol sales.

“Since alcohol sales began in Belpre we haven’t seen a difference in operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) or other alcohol-related arrests,” said Mayor Mike Lorentz. “We have more of a problem with drugs than we do with alcohol.”

Wal-Bon, which owns Napoli’s Italian Feast as well as all of the Napoli’s Pizza and McHappy’s Donut shops throughout the area, was the first business in the city to place alcohol issues on the ballot in both 2005 and 2009. The first attempt failed by a small margin. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the citizens of Belpre chose to keep the city dry.

Less than a year following the sale of Napoli’s first beer, Wayne Waldeck, chief executive officer at Wal-Bon Corp., said the company was looking into expanding the alcohol selection with a full liquor license and Sunday sales. If these two latest issues pass, the restaurant will have fulfilled the company’s beverages wishes.