Colonial Arts Center explores options for serving alcohol at grand opening, future events

BUCKHANNON – The Colonial Arts Center Board wants to seek permission to serve alcohol at the Colonial Arts Center for future events.

The CAC Board has been hashing out policies for usage of the space, and during their Aug. 2 meeting, the board discussed the possibility of serving alcohol during events and shows at the facility. CAC Board President John Waltz asked if they would be permitted to serve alcohol during their grand opening and fundraiser dinner in October.

“The city is going to have to make a decision, not only for the CAC, but for the Brushy Fork Event Center, too,” Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders said. “Finding a third party [vendor] you can rely on seems to be the challenge; the ones that come to mind that could [qualify as] a third party are already busy with their own ventures. The one that we thought we could count on never got back to us.”

Sanders said the city could also apply for its own license, but that comes with a certain level of liability. 

“You have to be so careful who you bring in as a third party because then you have to depend on them to hire the right caliber of people, and that’s a risk we might take, but there’s also risks involved with the city doing it,” Sanders said. “If you give it to a third-party vendor, you’re giving up all the profit, you’re giving up the liabilities, but you buy a bottle of alcohol for $20, and you sell $75 or $100 worth of drinks out of it, so you made $60 or $75 of profit off a bottle of alcohol, and that’s where the venue can make money.”

Board member Erika Kolenich said the city’s liability insurance should cover anything that could occur at either facility.

“I guess I’m a little bit biased, but as an attorney, if you have insurance, anything that could possibly happen is covered under the insurance policy anyway,” Kolenich said. “It’s difficult, if not impossible, to rent a venue – any venue for things like birthday parties, weddings and things like that – if we don’t have something in place to serve alcohol. At one time, we talked about renting the Colonial for private events, and that’s going to be hard to do if you don’t have that in place.”

Waltz said he did not know if the October fundraiser had the capacity to raise enough money if they were unable to serve alcohol.

“If we believe alcohol can’t be served at that event, I’m not quite certain we can arrange a price point that makes the amount of money we would need on the event,” Waltz said. “I think the question would be raised if it was worth the time and the effort to put the thing on and have everybody volunteer to do this if we can’t reach the price point we want.”

Colonial Arts Center Board President John Waltz / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Sanders said the matter needed to be resolved soon to keep the Event Center at Brushy Fork operational.

“We’re going to have to either go to the third-party vendor, or I’m going to recommend that we just close down the Event Center because I’m getting calls all the time,” Sanders said. “I don’t have a manager, so I’m going to be following up with a lot of callbacks, and we’ll have to tell people, ‘I don’t know if you can have alcohol.’”

Amberle Jenkins, director of finance and administration for the City of Buckhannon, said no decisions could be made during their CAC board meeting, and it would have to be taken up by Buckhannon City Council.

“We need to approach council about this; this needs to be put on an agenda,” Jenkins said. “Do you get a third-party vendor, or do you want a license and accept liabilities?”

Waltz said a decision will need to be made prior to the CAC board’s events in October.

“I don’t know if we can help or speak about that at council,” he said. “I don’t know what’s appropriate; I don’t know who brings it to council or if they take that up on their own. Of course, we’re trying to think of both of these events that are in October, so by about early September, I think we need to have a vision.”

Sanders said he would reach out to other entities to see how they have handled event spaces, and he would request that the topic be placed on the next available council agenda.

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