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Local business, city attempting to come to an agreement

MORRIS – Communication between Montage Wine Bar & Spirits and with the city of Morris started out rough, but the parties said they are working together to try and accommodate Montage owners’ wishes to expand their business.

The wine shop owners, Ginger Hollenbeck and Michelle Xydakis, would like to add some liquor products to their bottle and by the glass sales. Their current liquor license, a K-1, allows for the sale of wine bottles to be taken off premise and for it to be sold by the glass.

“We want to add an extra niche as requested by our customers,” Xydakis told the Judiciary and License Committee on Monday.

In a private meeting earlier in March, the women and Mayor Richard Kopczick met to discuss their options, which included applying for a class A liquor license, which is a full-bar and packaged liquor license; amending the K-1 license with council approval; or creating a new license with council approval.

The class A option was discussed and denied last week at a Judiciary and License Committee meeting that the Montage owners were upset they were not invited to, and took to social media declaring their feelings. The owners said they were told to attend this Monday’s committee meeting, which they did.

At Monday’s meeting, Kopczick explained the class A license was discussed last week because they did not need to be present whether the A license was approved. But to amend or create a new license, that would have to be discussed with the owners and was planned to occur at Monday’s meeting.

After much discussion, it was decided that the committee and business owners will work to amend the K-1 license in order to accommodate the wine shop since they are a unique niche in town.

The owners and city attorney Scott Belt will work to see if the city can accommodate Montage’s request to sell spirits by the glass – only over ice or neat, not in mixed drinks. Like the wine, they also would be allowed to serve tastings and sell it by the bottle to be opened off premise.

In addition, the wine shop owners are requesting a capacity extension as well as later business hours. Currently, the store is allowed to have only 16 people in at a time. This capacity remains from when the shop first opened as a tasting and gift shop. They are requesting a capacity of 40.

The shop’s hours are allowed from 2 until 10 p.m. and are requesting to be open from noon to midnight Monday through Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday.

This comes after the store has been staying open later than its 10 p.m. allowed time for quite some time, according to the owners. It was forced to close down by police at 11:15 p.m. Friday, according to a police report.

During Monday’s meeting the owners admitted to staying open until midnight often in the past. In a Facebook post from Montage’s page, the owners state their hours have been the same (until midnight) for four years.

Mayor Kopczick said Tuesday the investigation into Montage’s hours violation is ongoing. According to city ordinance, the business could be fined for its violation.

Hollenbeck said at the meeting in her liquor license applications in recent years, which have all been approved, the hours have been listed until midnight.

Liquor license hours are set by City Council ordinance and changing it on your application is not the procedure, nor does it allow for a liquor license owner to change its hours, Kopczick said.

“No one contacted me, the committee or any City Council member to extend their hours. We would have to amend the ordinance to allow that,” Kopczick said Tuesday.

Amending an ordinance to change liquor license hours requires full City Council action.

The 10 p.m. closing time is outlined in the current K-1 license, the license that Hollenbeck helped the city create.

Hollenbeck said the requests to add liquor and to extend their hours are all to accommodate customer requests. Closing before midnight will hurt their business, she said.

“It hurts our business to close at 10 p.m. We’re an after dinner place ... many people end their dinner at 9:30 p.m.,” Xydakis said.

Messages left Tuesday for further comment from Montage’s owners were not immediately returned.

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