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February 20, 2018 6:01 pm

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Saugatuck Officials Give Green Light For Alcohol Sale At Retro Boat Rentals


The operator of a new local boat rental company said that being able to serve alcohol to his clients will enhance safety measures for his business as well as the City of Saugatuck.

The Saugatuck City Council, following a planning commission recommendation, gave the Retro Boat Rentals operation the green light for a liquor license for outdoor seating and on-premise consumption during Monday’s meeting.

Retro Boat initiated its venture this past June 28. With a fleet of 15 boats (10 in the water), the business takes rare classic runabout boats and retrofits them with electric motors, many maintaining the characteristics of the era within which they were created, 1958-1963.

The council gave Retro Boat Rentals’ owner John Sharar an opportunity, at his request, to comment before its decision on Monday.

“We invested a lot of time and money on these boats. Our interest in seeking a liquor license is securing that investment,” Sharar told the council.

Sharar is seeking to transfer ownership of a Specially Designated Merchant Class C license to himself through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The license permit process requires local recommendation before it goes to the state level for review.

The permit will allow Retro Boat to sell alcohol to patrons on the premises to enjoy on the patio or take it with them on the boat.

Holding a good-sized mason jar as a visual reference, Sharar told the council, “Now, without the benefit of any license, customers can go aboard the boats with this. This could be full of vodka.”

He sees the license as a tool that will provide him control of what—and how much—goes on the boat regarding alcohol drinks.

“I would have 100 percent control of what is sold and consumed on the boat. This enhances the safety of our operation and the town while enhancing the experience for our customers,” said Sharar.

Retro Boat has hosted anniversaries, birthdays and special events.

“We had 700 boat rentals this past summer without any accidents,” said Sharar.

Saugatuck Mayor Ken Trester and others spoke highly of Retro Boat Rentals, citing the business has been a good feature for the community since its inception this past summer.

Saugatuck Officials Give Green Light For Alcohol Sale At Retro Boat Rentals

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