Kentucky law to allow bars in small cities, Marshall County to opt out

No bars allowed —Marshall County leaders want to make that the law of the land.

"We want to put that ordinance in place so that we stay consistent with what the people had discussed and what they wanted in 2015," said Marshall County Judge Executive Kevin Neal. He says when the county went wet in 2015, bars were not allowed, because of the population sizes of individual cities.

House Bill 183, signed by Gov. Matt Bevin, changes that. The new law will go into effect June 29, but small cities like Calvert City are opting out.

Marshall County officials are presenting an ordinance to the Marshal County Fiscal Court to do the same. Neal says it’s all because the state law changed, and the voters didn’t approve that.

"We feel it’s our responsibility at the county level to make sure we uphold what the discussion was back in 2015," Neal explained. He said, if the people want bars, then they will discuss a vote on that.

"It’s up to the people if that’s what they want," Neal said.

Neal explained that Marshall County went wet for several reasons, one of them being tourism. The county is home to part of Kentucky Lake. 

Kathy Smith, who has been going to the lake since 1989, said she’s enjoyed the change."Our truck is emptier coming down," Smith said. "We don’t have to bring the liquor. We don’t have to make runs back to Paducah."

The first fiscal year for the county’s alcohol sales is wrapping up, and the tourism industry is reaping the benefits. Moors Resort and Marina owner Mark Woods said he’s had to expand his restaurant since they started serving alcohol. He also said food sales have doubled.

The difference between a restaurant that serves alcohol and a bar is that restaurants have to make at least 50 percent of their profits from food sales, whereas a traditional bar doesn’t have that requirement.

The alcohol license they would not allow is called a quota retail drink license, according to Marshall County ABC Administrator Scott Brown.

A new brewery in Benton, Kentucky, is sliding by that ordinance. Dam Brewhaus runs under a malt beverage drink license, which is permitted, and won’t be changed under the ordinance. 

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