Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 7, 2013

Boyd could be next to vote for Sunday alcohol

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — A week after Ashland voters approved Sunday restaurant sales of alcohol in two city precincts, a Boyd County restaurant owner is preparing to test public sentiment there.

Tal Callihan, owner of Callihan’s American Pub and Grill and RJ Kahuna’s restaurants, both at the Kyova Mall, said Wednesday he plans to start a petition to place Sunday sales on the ballot in all or part of Boyd County.

“I’m in the process of getting it started,” he said. “We just want to be able to level the playing field to be included in what is going on. I’m going to talk to someone today to see what the next step is to get it started. I think the sooner the better.”

Callihan said the low turnout for Ashland’s Sunday sales vote indicates to him that public sentiment is shifting on the issue.  

“There were only 207 people who came out to vote of 1,500. It seemed to me that nobody really cared. Was it really that big a deal to everybody? If it was that big a deal, you would have a lot of opposition,” he said.

“To me, it’s progress here. It’s a step in the right direction. Those are things that, if you want to have economic growth, are necessary. I think people want it and won’t say it. They are afraid to ruffle some feathers. I think it is something we need. We lose a ton of money to Ohio and to West Virgina. Now we’re losing it to some of our own (Kentucky) counties,” Callihan said.

In addition to Ashland’s pending Sunday sales, Morehead has established Sunday sales.

Boyd County went moist in 2007. “I think we’ve handled it extremely well,” Callihan said. “We created two quality places for people to go because of what that has done.

“I am able to provide live entertainment four days a week. Those are the things that it has allowed me to do. If we didn’t have alcohol, I could have never done that.”

Extending alcohol into Sunday would allow him to do even more.

Callihan’s is currently open on Sundays, but closes at 8 p.m. Kahuna’s does not open on Sunday because of the competition with sports bars in other areas that do serve alcohol, said Callihan.

If Sunday sales were added, Callihan would open Kahuna’s and extend hours at Callihan’s on Sunday. He’d also add a fifth day of live musical entertainment there.

Those changes would require him to hire at least 10 new people for Kahuna’s. He’d also have to add a second shift at Callihan’s, which could mean additional jobs.

Callihan estimates Sunday sales would add at least $500,000 a year in sales between his two mall restaurants. It would also translate into additional jobs, along with payroll and net profits tax.

Boyd County Judge-Executive William “Bud” Stevens said he was aware a petition for Sunday sales was being discussed and plans to call a meeting of his county commissioners soon to discuss the issue.

“I’m not saying yes or no,” he said, when asked if he supported Sunday alcohol sales in the county. However, Stevens did comment that the cost of an election would be high.

“If he gets a petition together, we’ll have to talk about it,” Stevens added.

A countywide election would cost taxpayers an estimated $88,000, according to Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones. According to the KRS, under which Boyd County’s moist law falls, the fiscal court could take action to amend their alcohol ordinance to sell alcohol by the drink on Sundays without an election.

Jones said a countywide petition for Sunday sales would need signatures representing 25 percent of the 19,333 voters who cast a ballot in November. That translates to 4,833 signatures of registered Boyd County voters, she said. The signatures would need to be gathered within six months of the petition start date.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com