Pawnee County's Liquor By The Drink Vote

Monday, July 24th 2006, 10:08 am
By: News On 6

Liquor by the drink is up for a vote in Pawnee County Tuesday.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says in most rural towns, any idea for economic development is welcomed.

So when Pawnee County Commissioner Gary Pogue realized a change in the law might help create jobs, he agreed liquor by the drink should be on the ballot. "We piggybacked it on this election now and the people that was for it paid for the ballots so it was a win win situation, the people who are no, they can vote no and it won't cost them a dime and the people that are yes, they can vote yes and it won't cost them a dime."

Pawnee County is only the latest place to reconsider liquor by the drink. When the state opened it up to county option in 1984, Pawnee County voted against it and it's been dry ever since. But not dry in the strictest sense - restaurants cannot sell liquor, but they can sell beer. Roger Smith with Click's Restaurant: "As long as it's 3.2 or below, but wine or mixed drinks, not in Pawnee County right now."

The popular Click's Steakhouse has prospered for years without selling alcohol. But the owner plans to expand if he can sell mixed drinks - because it's got a higher profit margin than the food. "Obviously as far as making money, it would enhance us in that regard."

It's an election issue with little controversy, according the sheriff, who plans to vote against it. Pawnee County Sheriff Roger Price: "I'm Baptist and my preacher would throw a fit for one thing, plus I just don't think we need it." But even Sheriff Price admits there's no shortage of alcohol in the county, even without liquor by the drink. "I really don't foresee a big difference in what it would be now."

44 Oklahoma counties have already approved liquor by the drink - 33 have not.