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You Ask, We Answer: Why is there only one liquor license currently available?

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - It's time for another segment of You Ask, We Answer. News 18 previously reported that two Eau Claire businesses are competing for the same liquor license, which got several viewers wondering, "Why is there only one available, and why can't they both get one?"

At News 18 we don’t just tell you the news, we listen to you too. That is why we created “You Ask, We Answer.”

Reboot Social, which is looking to open and operate in the old Children's Museum, and Fusion Management, which plans to revamp the State Theatre, both want the regular combination Class B alcohol license.

Eau Claire city clerk Carrie Riepl said in 1997, the state of Wisconsin set the maximum number of combination Class B licenses Eau Claire could have based off of a formula including population, how many licenses the city had at the time and other factors.

That quota was set at 82 and that's still the same number the city is allowed to issue. Riepl said the only way that number could change is if the state changes the law.

Another alternative to this license is the combination Class B reserve license. The main difference between the two is the regular license has a $600 application fee whereas the reserve license comes with a drastically higher fee of $11,600.

The other big difference is that the regular license can be transferred from place to place and person to person whereas the reserve one is non-transferable.

"So if you have a reserve license, if your business location moves, you need to reapply and get a new license," Riepl said. "If you want to sell your business, you cannot transfer it to the new owner. They would need to get a new license."

The current license up for grabs became available after O'Leary's Pub on Clairemont Avenue permanently closed in the fall.

Riepl said a regular combination Class B license usually becomes available every two to three years. When it is back in the city's possession, the city posts when people can apply for it.

There's also a number of other alcohol beverage licenses in the state of Wisconsin, likes ones for just selling fermented beverages, better known as beer, ones for just selling intoxicating liquor including wine and ones for just cider. The licenses also vary by if the drinks are consumed on or off premises.

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