Public Input Sought On Liquor License Request For Former Elbo Room
Saugatuck City officials said Monday they will first seek the input of neighbors before voting on whether to approve or not approve a liquor license for the former Elbo Room restaurant, north of the Peterson Mill and fronting the Kalamazoo River.
The Elbo Room owners Lance and Betty Barendse closed shop in Saugatuck, at 880 Holland St., last year and moved their restaurant to downtown Zeeland.
Now property owner Larry Basil is seeking new restaurateurs to take over the place, located in a mixed land-use area of commercial and residential.
Basil is now applying for either a new liquor license or a transfer of one, an amenity he said has not been part of the property since at least his 12-year ownership.
The State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission cannot consider the approval of a license without first having the approval of the local legislative body (Saugatuck City Council).
“You decide what the best decision is for your city; there is no guidelines by the state,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told city council Monday.
The Barendses tried to acquire a liquor license at one point years back, but the issue prompted “heated discussion,” noted city council members, alluding to complaints from neighbors without going much into details.
Asked to comment on the matter, Basil told Observer Newspapers, “We are not looking for a night club, we are not looking for a late night operation.
“It is a type of neighborhood that is proper for a quiet, friendly restaurant where people can go and enjoy casual dining then go home.”
He didn’t have any misgivings about the city council’s move to table the issue, bring it to a workshop, and ask neighbors for their input before making a final decision.
“I am happy to talk to the neighbors and listen to any concerns they may have,” said Basil.
Harrier said that if he had known about the controversy prior to Monday’s meeting, he wouldn’t have put the issue on the agenda.
“I find this (tabling the issue) move to be prudent,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson.
“We have been through this before in that neighborhood.”
Harrier said the city will be notifying the neighborhood by several means and inviting everyone to discussions at city workshop sessions.