Gibraltar Awards Liquor License to Welcker’s Lounge

The Town of Gibraltar has awarded its reserve Class B liquor license to Welcker’s Lounge, a new restaurant and bar located in the former Whistling Swan restaurant space.

Welcker’s was up against three other applicants for the $20,000 license: the White Gull Inn, Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza and Grille, and Pelletier’s Restaurant & Fish Boil. 

After submitting their initial applications, representatives of each business needed to complete a questionnaire to help the board determine each applicant’s merit. The questionnaire took into account factors such as the type of business, how long it had been around, and whether it operated seasonally or year-round. It also asked applicants to describe how receiving the liquor license could enhance the quality of the Fish Creek experience. 

In response to this question – both in the questionnaire and during the June 7 town board meeting when the supervisors made a decision – Welcker’s representatives stated that a liquor license could make or break their business, located at 4192 Main St. in Fish Creek. They noted that a significant number of potential customers leave the restaurant after learning that it does not serve liquor – an experience that Pelletier’s representatives echoed.

Welcker’s and Pelletier’s are both seasonal establishments. Welcker’s representatives said that having a liquor license could help the business stay open year-round, but Pelletier’s representatives did not mention a plan to do the same.

The White Gull Inn and Wild Tomato already operate year-round, and representatives from both businesses said that receiving the liquor license would help them to get more business during the off-season.

Before the board started discussing its options, town chair Steve Sohns clarified that the reserve liquor license cannot be transferred, so if the business were to sell, the next owner could not count on getting its liquor license.

“If the business fails, or if they screw up, we get the license back,” Sohns said. “In my mind, all we’ve got to think about is what’s best for the town and what’ll get us the most bang for our buck.”

The first motion on the table came from supervisor Tom Birmingham, who proposed that the White Gull Inn receive the license. Of the four businesses, it has been around the longest, so, Birmingham said, the town could count on its stability.

The conversation then shifted to the potential merit of choosing a newer business to receive the license. Town administrator Travis Thyssen mentioned that owners of multiple local restaurants that had closed in recent years, including the Gibraltar Grill, said they could have stayed open if they had had a liquor license.

White Gull Inn owner Meredith Coulson-Kanter acknowledged that although a liquor license would benefit her business, it would not make or break it.

“If this could help a business stay open for winter, I would have no hard feelings toward the board,” she said. 

With that in mind, the town board unanimously agreed to award the license to Welcker’s.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but thank you, Meredith, for making it easier,” Sohns said. 

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