By Mark A. Vierthaler
Director of Marketing/Distiller
If you live in Ford County, Kansas you may have seen/heard some chatter online and in the news about the “Raise a Glass – Vote Yes in Ford County” campaign. This has been a concerted effort by us at Boot Hill Distillery, as well as various supporters across Ford County, to remove the county’s requirement that 30 percent of a business’ revenue must come from food sales if they wish to sell alcohol by the drink.
There are a couple of reasons we’re supporting the Raise a Glass – Vote Yes in Ford County campaign.
But first, some background on the law and why we’re looking to change it.
What’s Even the Law?
K.S.A. 41-2642 specifically outlines how specific businesses are allowed to sell alcohol by the drink (not to be confused with the sale of retail alcohol by liquor stores).
The particular part of this law that we’re interested in reads:
(b) A drinking establishment shall be required to derive from sales of food for consumption on the licensed premises not less than 30% of all the establishment's gross receipts from sales of food and beverages on such premises unless the licensed premises are located in a county where the qualified electors of the county:
(1) Have approved, at an election pursuant to K.S.A. 41-2646, and amendments thereto, a proposition to allow sales of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink in public places within the county without a requirement that any portion of their gross receipts be derived from the sale of food; and
(2) have not approved a proposition to prohibit such sales of alcoholic liquor in such places at a subsequent election pursuant to K.S.A. 41-2646, and amendments thereto.
In non-legalese, that means there are three kinds of liquor designations for individual counties within Kansas.
- Dry Counties – These are counties where there are no on-premises alcohol sales allowed. There are only 10 counties in Kansas that are completely dry.
- Wet Counties – These are counties where there are no requirements on the sale of alcohol by the drink. There are 31 counties that are considered “wet” counties in Kansas.
- 30 Percent Counties – These are counties where businesses may only sell alcohol by the drink if 30 percent of their revenue comes from the sale of food. With 64 counties, the majority of Kansas currently has this restriction in place.
What’s the Question Say?
The question on the November 8 ballot reads:
Shall the following be adopted?
Shall sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink in Ford County, Kansas, be allowed in public places without a requirement that any portion of their gross receipts be from the sales of food?
It’s important to note that what the law means by “public places” does NOT mean that alcohol can be sold randomly out on the street. In the law, public places means locations such as bars, restaurants, etc. and other properly-licensed venues.
Why We Want to Change the Law
There’s a long history of temperance here in Kansas. We were the first state to ratify prohibition back in 1881. We were the last ones to allow the sale of liquor by the drink, repealing the law in 1987.
We feel that these archaic liquor laws put a large burden on local businesses, stifle new business growth – especially in downtown and city center locations - and limit potential quality of life improvements for locals, as well as entertainment and culinary options for visitors.
By repealing this law, we feel that this opens more opportunities for craft cocktail bars, encourages investment in the downtown areas of Ford County, and works to continue Ford County’s development as a destination not just for our entertainment, but for our food as well.
From our standpoint, we feel that the changing of the law would definitely also benefit us as a distillery. Currently we are allowed to gives tours of our distillery, serve samples of our spirits, and sell bottles of our spirits to individuals.
However, we feel that a great value-add would be able to craft handmade cocktails using our handcrafted, soil-to-sip spirits. It’s a lot of fun to see behind the scenes and sample the product. But by offering craft cocktails, we can show our visitors and our locals how to make world-class drinks at home.
Our goal isn’t to become party central. Our goal is to create a high-class cocktail bar that will bring people into downtown Dodge City in the early evenings before heading off to see the Carnegie Center show opening, sitting down for the Depot Theater Company’s newest production, or catching the latest concert at United Wireless Arena.
How You Can Get Involved
If you support the Raise a Glass – Vote Yes campaign, be sure to like our Facebook page. If you’re not on Facebook, give the Distillery a call at 620-371-6309 and we’d love to supply you with more information.
Most importantly – we need you to get out and vote “Yes” on Tuesday, November 8!