Del. Lawmakers Consider Allowing Liquor Licenses for Very Small - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Lawmakers Consider Allowing Liquor Licenses for Very Small Restaurants

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Size does matter when it comes to a restaurant having a liquor license in Delaware. As it stands now, a restaurant must have seating for 35 people to qualify for a license. But state lawmakers are considering changing that number to 12.

Otis Brooks owns Caribbean Cuisine in downtown Dover. His restaurant has fewer than 12 seats, but he is considering an expansion.

"Hopefully this can come through," he said. "And this could, could help my business."

Carrie Leishman, CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association, says there are about 2,000 restaurants in the First State. She doesn't know exactly how many of those have between 12 and 35 seats.

"Most are larger. I don't think we're going to see, um, too many that apply for this. But it's awesome that they have the ability to," she said.

If 12 seats seems like an arbitrary number, that's because, according to the bill's sponsor, it somewhat is. But he said 35 appears to have been arbitrary, too.

"If someone likes ten better than 12 - absolutely fine. (I have a) question as to whether five might be a little too small. I think it's a Goldilocks - what's just right," Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, said.

Rep. Baumbach says the restaurant needs to be of a size that's able to handle the requirements of having a license, which aren't insubstantial. Add this bill to one from last year allowing some Delaware movie theaters to sell alcohol and one expanding sale options for some desserts with alcohol in them - Delaware is making alcohol more accessible than ever.

That is something some have expressed concerns over.

"There's always the idea of you don't want too much alcohol," said John Cordrey, Delaware's Alcoholic Beverage Commissioner. "On the other hand, we want to make alcohol readily available to the persons who are of age, who should be able to purchase legally."

And Cordrey says he believes the state can handle any additional alcohol enforcement necessary if this bill becomes law.

A House committee approved the bill Wednesday. It now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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