MARIETTA?- Second Street diners could be enjoying a cold beer with their pizza as early as summer.
The Original Pizza Place is poised to be the first downtown business to submit an application for a liquor license under the area's new status as a revitalization district, said manager Kasandra Ruscitto.
"We're really excited about it," said Ruscitto. "We're not going to change into a bar atmosphere. We're just looking to bring in something to enhance the experience here," she said.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Pizza Place manager Kasandra Ruscitto cuts up a pizza for a carry out order Tuesday during the lunch rush. The Marietta restaurant is in the final stages of submitting its application to receive a liquor license under the new revitalization district distinction.
The business has completed their application and are merely waiting on the final necessary background checks needed for licensure approval by the state Division of Liquor Control, she said.
The revitalization district, which allows for the issuance of an additional 15 D-5l liquor licenses, was approved by Marietta City Council in November, and by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control sometime around the beginning of the year, said Marietta Main Street executive director Jean G. Farmer.
The licenses will hopefully help existing restaurants and spur new business in the area, she said.
Front Street to the alley east of Third Street between Ohio and Scammel streets, Putnam and Harmar bridges, Gilman Avenue to the river and the 300 block of Franklin and the 200 block of Virginia Street.
"One of the things we're thinking is how cool it would be to get more restaurants on Second Street, especially with the (Peoples Bank) Theatre coming. It could be like restaurant row," said Farmer.
City Development Director Andy Coleman agreed that the availability of new liquor licenses will fill up some of the empty store fronts in the area.
"That's always been a big deterrent there, that you can't get a liquor license," said Coleman.
Third Street Deli owner Gerald Moore remembers that struggle from when he first opened the Marietta business in 1992.
"When we first started our business in Marietta we tried (to get a liquor license). It was impossible," he said.
While Moore has no plans to pursue a liquor license for his Marietta business, he said he is supportive of the revitalization district and additional availability of liquor permits.
"I just think the license should be available if you qualify," he said.
A West Virginia liquor license is much easier to come by, as the state does not limit them, he noted. Third Street Deli also has a Parkersburg location.
Not everyone is in favor of the addition of the revitalization district and more liquor licenses.
The new licenses, which can be obtained for $2,344, greatly devalue the existing liquor licenses in the city, said Marietta City Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large.
"In that one vote, they vaporized about a million and a half dollars of net worth in downtown businesses," said Noland, who voted against the creation of the district in November.
The new D-5l licenses will give license holders full liquor privileges, like those enjoyed by D-5 license holders.
The D-5 licenses are limited to eight in Marietta and all eight are issued, said Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
While the D-5 licenses cost the same $2,344 fee at the state level, many current D-5 license holders had to wheel and deal and ultimately invest large sums of money in a business that already possessed a license in order to apply for the license.
"Some of the people that invested in those liquor licenses may still have mortgages on those...So if a restaurant has a $50,000 mortgage they are still making a mortgage payment and they have to compete with a business with no mortgage payment, they can't compete fairly," said Noland.
Furthermore, Noland is skeptical that the requirement for D-5l license holders to retain 75 percent of their business through food sales will not be adequately audited and enforced.
"The number of liquor licenses do not equal the number of fine dining locations in the city," Noland asserted.
So far, there are no pending applications for a D-5l liquor permit in Marietta, said Mullins.
Once submitted, the applications typically take 10 to 12 weeks to approve, he said.