HUMBOLDT — A Bolder Humboldt is seeking a public vote that would loosen Allen County’s restrictions on selling alcohol. 

If approved, businesses selling liquor by the drink would no longer have to meet food sales standards as well.

Paul Cloutier of A Bolder Humboldt asked county commissioners Tuesday to consider adding a resolution to the general election ballot that allows entertainment establishments to sell primarily alcohol. 

Current law requires those that sell liquor by the drink to derive 30 percent of their profits from food sales.

Cloutier said A Bolder Humboldt is interested in opening “multiple new and compelling businesses” that may only be possible without the 30 percent stipulation.

Cloutier, who also serves on the Humboldt City Council, noted that five out of nine counties in southeast Kansas (including Bourbon and Woodson) have already overturned this rule, “a vestige of strict alcohol regulations dating back to the 1880s.”

He also noted this rule limits the types of innovative and desirable businesses that can exist there, including microbreweries, wine tasting rooms, music venues, or other creative, popular bar experiences.

Because these types of businesses are currently precluded from existing, he told commissioners, “Our county is leaving money on the table.”

“Microbreweries, in particular, are reshaping the economic landscape,” he noted, “drawing tons of outside visitors, and generating loads of new tax dollars.”

A Bolder Humboldt is trying to get 450 signatures on a petition soon. The petition could lead to getting the question put on the general election ballot in November.

Booths are set up in Humboldt and Iola this week and residents are invited to drop by to lend support with a quick signature.

In Humboldt, booths can be found in front of Humboldt Mercantile today from 10 am – 6 pm and at the Iola Farmers Market on the square today from 5 to 7 pm. 

Additional times and locations may be added later if necessary.

The precise wording of the resolution would read: “Shall sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink in Allen County be allowed in public places without a requirement that any portion of their gross receipts be from sales of food?”

Commissioners did not immediately take action, but seemed amenable to doing so after they had reviewed the appropriate documentation.

They have until next Tuesday, Aug. 4, to approve adding the measure in order to get the public’s feedback.


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