Riverside Spirits to relocate to downtown Winter Park leaving resort with fewer off-sale liquor options | SkyHiNews.com

Riverside Spirits to relocate to downtown Winter Park leaving resort with fewer off-sale liquor options

Riverside Spirits is moving downtown.

The Winter Park Town Council, which doubles as the town's liquor board, approved a change of location for the Winter Park Resort-based liquor store Tuesday morning, clearing the way for it's move into downtown Winter Park. While the move was well supported by town residents and business owners, there were also those who opposed it.

Riverside Spirits is currently located on Zephyr Way at the resort's base, bracketed between Starbucks and Showcase Snowboards. The move will relocate the store adjacent to Fireside Market & Eatery, just off the east side of Highway 40. There is currently one other liquor store in the town, Winter Park Wine & Spirits, located on the opposite side of the highway.

Scott Hefel, owner of Riverside Spirits, presented his argument for moving during the meeting.

Hefel said that he currently employs one person at the resort location, but said he could hire four to five more if the store was allowed to move. He said there was a clear demand in the community, that he collected more than 80 signatures in support of the proposition and that the store would provide a greater level of convenience for residents and tourists alike.

Hefel's sentiments were largely reflected in the public hearing.

More than a dozen Winter Park residents and stakeholders attended the hearing to express their support, many citing a lack of convenience with their current alcohol purchasing options in town. Multiple residents admitted to shopping for alcohol in Fraser because of the liquor store's proximity to Safeway, and added that their shopping tendencies would shift with more convenient options.

Nathan Svoboda, director of Fireside Market & Eatery, said that he often fields requests from his customers for alcoholic options, and advocated for the move. Others argued that Riverside was outgrowing its current store at certain times, and was isolated during the resort's off-seasons.

Those opposed to the move focused on legal issues and potential market gaps left by the town.

Martin Aither, owner of Winter Park Wine & Spirits, argued that the state liquor board needed to voice an opinion before the town could move forward, and that no new liquor licenses could be issued within 3,000 feet of another liquor store.

Adam Stapen, an attorney representing Riverside Spirits, however, argued that because the liquor license is just being moved and isn't new, it's essentially grandfathered in and therefore isn't subject to distance requirements. The town's attorney, Kendra Carberry, agreed and noted that there was no requirement for the state liquor board to issue an opinion before moving forward.

Others were concerned with a potential lack of alcohol purchasing options at Winter Park Resort, voicing that not all guests make it downtown, and that a lack of familiar products and services in the area could hurt the guest experience.

Ultimately the council, swayed by residents' desire for convenience and the increased demand of a growing population, decided to approve the move.

Hefel said he intends to be open in the new location by this summer.

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