NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (WKBN) – In Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, voters in the Lawrence County community of New Wilmington voted 240 to 114 — more than a 2 to 1 margin — to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages in the borough.
New Wilmington has been a dry town since the 1930s. Even though it’s not anymore, don’t expect bars to open on the streets next to Westminster College. Liquor licenses will be limited to restaurants only.
The owners of Tavern on the Square, Todd and Alma Ulicny, spearheaded the effort to change the liquor situation in New Wilmington.
There’s now a notice on the door, saying the restaurant has applied for a license to sell alcohol. Pending approval, the Ulicnys will likely get the first license.
“We didn’t want to let anyone down, so we bought our license before the vote. It was a gamble,” Todd said.
A gamble that paid off. Tavern on the Square hopes to be serving alcohol in 60 days.
The sound of Amish buggies is often heard in New Wilmington. It’s a quaint little town and most people there want to keep it that way.
That’s why a provision was put in the law — to prevent bars from lining the streets.
“It would have to have a restaurant license to do so. The petition that we signed, the vote that was carried was to authorize restaurants,” Todd said.
“I was so over the top elated that it passed,” said Sherie Babb, New Wilmington’s mayor who also sells real estate.
She said first thing the next morning, she got several calls from people wanting to buy a building.
Babb will also make sure the issuing of liquor licenses will be strictly regulated.
“Any other license, anyone else wanting to put in a restaurant with a liquor license, would have to go before borough council to do that,” she said.
Wendy Famerie runs Silk Road Fair Trade Market across from Tavern on the Square.
“I think there’s going to be more businesses coming in, there’s going to be more restaurants coming in, there’s going to be more places to shop. I think it’s going to make us a little livelier. I don’t think it’s going to change the fabric of our town one bit,” she said.
There are actually places in downtown New Wilmington that sell liquor. Hop Asylum and Fractured Grape make their own beer and wine.
Under a relatively new state law, they were allowed to open as long as they made their own product. The law was used to promote Pennsylvania’s craft beer and wine industry.