The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 27, 2013

Monroe Township approves restaurant's liquor plan

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — The Monroe Township supervisors Tuesday night granted Texas Roadhouse Holdings’ request for a liquor license to sell alcohol at its proposed eatery, but the decision was not unanimous.

Supervisor Dean Davis questioned the need for the national chain, which is popular with families, to obtain a liquor license for its proposed restaurant at the site of the vacant Ruby Tuesday restaurant on the Strip.

“Why does a family restaurant have to sell alcohol?” Davis asked.

Attorney Mark Kozar said the Louisville, Ky.-based steakhouse, which operates 392 restaurants in 47 states, is competing with numerous restaurants that also sell alcohol. He said alcohol sales represented 11 percent of total sales for Texas Roadhouse in 2012.

“Alcohol is served as a complement to the food, not an attraction,” Kozar said.

The company received approval to apply to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for a license by a 2-1 vote, with Chairman Timothy Wolfe and Supervisor Steve Paige in favor.

Later, all three supervisors backed the township planning commission’s approval with conditions of the company’s request for preliminary final approval of plans to build a new 7,163-square-foot restaurant with 281 seats. About 25 full-time people would be employed at the restaurant when it opens.

Texas Roadhouse developers have 90 days to meet the conditions, which include obtaining approval from the Hummels Wharf Fire Company and providing a guaranteed completion date.

The supervisors also heard from George Albert Jr., president of G&Albert Consultants, of Pittston, about plans for a 4,500-square-foot Turkey Hill convenience store and gas station at the former site of the Golden Corral Restaurant at Routes 11-15 and Park Road.

Albert said the plan is to begin construction on the 1.36-acre lot in August.

A conditional use hearing on the plans will be held at the next public board hearing on April 23.

Another public hearing will be held the same night on a zoning ordinance amendment allowing retail as a conditional use in the village zone. An amendment would clear the way for Williamsport businessman Greg Cendoma to open the drive-through convenience store at 1680 N. Old Trail.

Cendoma operates two similar stores in Williamsport and Hughesville.

Davis voted against the zoning amendment because residents living in the area rejected a similar request about a decade ago.

“We’ve turned other people down,” he said, referring to other small-business proposals in the village.

Davis said he was remiss in failing to speak to the 36 residents who recently signed a petition in support of Cendoma’s proposed business, but felt it wouldn’t be fair to support an amendment before addressing the zoning issue in full.