WILMINGTON — The Town of Wilmington has repealed a restrictive local law that allowed only lodging enterprises to serve alcohol.
That town law, which said businesses had to have hotel rooms to qualify for a liquor license, had been on the books for a long time, Wilmington Town Supervisor Randy Preston said.
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He said it had been cited as one reason Wilmington never grew as fast as nearby Lake Placid.
“We, as in the town board, have been trying to identify why Wilmington was not able to grow like our neighbors in Lake Placid,” he said.
“The alcohol restriction came up over and over. So the town board passed the change to the law.”
‘HAMPER TO BUSINESS’
In a November 2012 referendum, voters in Wilmington OK’d alcohol sales by full-service restaurants, 178-23. Sale of alcohol at places with limited menus was approved with a vote of 163-43.
Preston said that amounted to significant public support for the change.
“We had felt this was a hamper to business; What restaurant would come in without lodging and open for business without being able to serve liquor?
“We have since had two establishments without boarding obtain a license.
“Both are very classy places.”
Rosalia’s Italian Kitchen and Roanka Attractions’ High Falls Gorge have both secured alcohol licenses from the State Liquor Authority since the law was annulled.
Roanka Attractions President Kathryn Reiss said they started planning for the sale of beer and wine at their River View Cafe soon after the change was made.
“For years, this law kept many local businesses in this tourist town from entering the lucrative bar business,” she said by email.
“Now that the law has been changed, High Falls Gorge has obtained a New York state liquor license allowing the on-premise consumption of beer and wine within its River View Cafe.”
High Falls Gorge is hiring two more employees at the café, Reiss said, because of the anticipated increase in business.
“The local community will benefit from this law change in two ways: There will be an increase in employment to properly staff the expanded businesses, and there will be an increase to the sales-tax base in both Essex County and New York state from the new revenue.”
‘STRONG LOCAL FEEL’
High Falls Gorge will hold a grand opening of its beer and wine bar from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Live musical entertainment and giveaways will be offered.
Reiss said the new bar area will have a strong local feel.
“The unique bar top and counters in the room were made by (High Falls) Property Manager Bob Bell. He used slabs of wood harvested from local trees, then artfully inlaid agate slabs into the wooden tops.
“The beverages served will include locally produced draft beer and a selection of New York state wines.”
People can enjoy a beverage while looking out at the spectacular High Falls Gorge, she said.
“It is my hope that guests will take time to slow down and take in the amazing scenery around them.”
High Falls Gorge features a half-mile scenic walk into the granite-walled gorge, where there are a series of four waterfalls more than 700 feet high.
The gorge will open for the season on April 22 this year with hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission for adults is $10.95 and children, $7.95.
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