Sharon businesses appreciate liquor license help, worry it’s not enough

Coronavirus

Over 150 businesses in Mercer County qualify for the waiver

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – Restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania won’t have to pay for liquor licenses next year.

For more than 16,000 restaurants, bars, clubs, catering clubs, and hotels, the total savings will be about $27 million.

The Liquor Control Board wants to help businesses struggling during the pandemic, but local restaurant owners worry it isn’t enough.

“They closed us down for three months. Yet, our liquor license, we still had to pay it,” said Bob Votino, owner of Tony’s Pizza & Pub. “I think a lot of bar owners were thinking why won’t it be prorated? Why wouldn’t we get a quarter of the year off? We still had to pay full price.”

Votino said he paid about $1,500 in July for his restaurant’s liquor license.

“Now they’re waiving it next year. And that’s good, don’t get me wrong, but that’s going to be too late in the game for a lot of places,” Votino said.

Across town in Sharon, George Warren, owner of Keg Bar and Grille, thinks a tax break or more coronavirus relief would help more. 

“The PPP fund and that has not been reissued to anybody that I know of. That was a big help early on but today, we’re significantly behind in our sales compared to last year,” Warren said.

Over 150 businesses in Mercer County qualify for the waiver. Businesses still need to re-apply for a 2021 liquor license but won’t pay a fee. 

“It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not very significant to most bar owners,” Warren said.

Businesses that are temporarily closed can also apply for safekeeping, which will inactivate their license for up to two years, without paying the associated fee. That could lead to up to $10,000 in savings. 

For more information on the waiver, you can visit the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s website

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