First Marshall County restaurant begins selling alcohol

The owners of The Brass Lantern in Aurora hope a change in the law brings a change to the culture of their county.

"It’s a new thing —something I’ve never done before," Bertha Wilson told Local 6.

Wilson applied for a liquor license last fall, and this weekend will be the first time she’ll be legally allowed to sell alcohol. "Instead of sending people out of the area, now we can hopefully maintain them here," she said.  

Wilson said customers even made a point to go elsewhere because she wasn’t serving alcohol. "They’ve come in before and said, ‘Do you serve alcohol?’ and when we said, ‘No we don’t.’ They said, ‘OK, where is the closest place I can go and get alcohol?’" Wilson explained.

ABC Administrator Scott Brown said many of the restaurants experienced a business bust after the Eggners Ferry Bridge incident in 2012. Now, with the option of selling alcohol, he’s expecting a turnaround. "They are hoping this is going to revive some of that traffic come back through here," Brown said. 

The Brass Lantern isn’t the only restaurant eligible to serve alcohol. The owner of Jay’s Steakhouse in Draffenville will be serving alcohol by the end of the month. He’s even expanding his restaurant to make room for a new bar.

"We wouldn’t have went with the 16 TVs and the bar area and the outside. We took the gamble of the alcohol vote passing or not," Jay Riley said. 

Brown said there are 17 businesses vying for 14 packaged alcohol licenses, which is separate from the retail licenses. He expects the state to make a decision on which 14 business will get those licenses by the end of the month.

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