Kent City Council can expect to see more requests from bar and restaurant owners for liquor license transfers — as early as next month.
At least 10 different businesses or partnerships have inquired with city administrators about Ohio's "Trex" liquor license transfer, a state-approved process that allows for the transfer of a liquor license from one community to another.
"They are out there," Kent Law Director Jim Silver said. "They want to come in to town. I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding people who want to come in to Kent and sell alcohol."
In Ohio, the number of liquor permits allowed per community is limited based on its population. In Kent, all of the available liquor licenses are owned or in use.
Kent has some strict regulations that must be met before council will sign off on trex transfers, yet council members granted a variance last week to three men looking to open Twisted Root Cellars, a wine and beer bar, at 181 E. Main St. inside the Kent Stage building.
Last fall, two women approached the city with plans to open a restaurant at 154 N. DePeyster St. and ask for a trex transfer. So far, that formal request has not been made.
And as early as next month Ron Burbick, the developer of Acorn Alley and the man behind the restoration of Acorn Corner, is likely to ask the city for a trex transfer for a wine bar proposed for the basement of Acorn Corner.
Kent's population of about 29,000, according to the 2010 Census, caps the number of full service, or D5i, liquor licenses to 15.
But the city created five more D5i liquor licenses when it established an entertainment district within the new redevelopment block downtown. And Laziza also was able to obtain a D5i liquor license, so the city has 21 total D5i, or full-service, liquor licenses.
That number doesn't include liquor license that are limited in hours or days of service and to beer and wine or carry-out only.
During talks about the Twisted Root Cellars several members of council expressed a desire to limit the number of new bars opening in the city.
Councilman Wayne Wilson said the city's initial talks about setting criteria to allow trex transfers centered around the concept of a restaurant being able to sell some alcohol during meals — not to allow bar-only type businesses.
"My firm belief is that we have too many bars in this town already," Wilson said.