2 Sunday liquor issues on ballots

Two local establishments-one in Marietta’s Harmar District and the other in Dunham Township-are seeking voter approval in Tuesday’s general election to add wine and mixed drinks to their Sunday beverage menus.

In Marietta’s 4th Ward Harmar Tavern and Spagna’s Restaurant owner Kevin Whitby said the ability to sell those beverages would allow him to open Spagna’s for dining seven days a week in addition to providing tavern patrons with the option to order mixed drinks between 10 a.m. and midnight on Sundays.

“Right now Spagna’s is closed Sundays, and we can’t sell wine or mixed beverages there,” he said. “But people often like to have a glass of wine with their dinner. If the Sunday sales issue is passed we could serve wine there and open on Sundays which would give us another day of work.”

Whitby said that would also provide more jobs as another crew would be hired to cover the extra day at the restaurant.

“The tavern is open Sundays and currently we can only sell beer that day, but many people would like to have a mixed drink instead,” he said.

Adding wine and mixed drinks to the Sunday menus at the tavern and Spagnas would also help increase the foot traffic through Harmar Village, Whitby added.

“I’m hoping this will help other local businesses in this area as well,” he said.

The 125-year-old Harmar Tavern draws many customers from outside the local region, including a large group of Columbus-area motorcycle enthusiasts who dropped in for lunch Sunday.

“We love the tavern and have been coming here for years,” said group coordinator Mike Solace of Columbus. “I picked this place specifically for lunch during our ride through Southeast Ohio today.”

Rick Flowers, co-owner of Cheeseman’s Bait Shop on Maple Street with wife, Kim, was all for Sunday sales at the Harmar Tavern and Spagna’s.

“I would support it, and see no reason why the issue should not be passed,” he said. “People do like to have some wine with their spaghetti dinner. And it could bring more business to this area.”

Chuck Swaney, owner of the Found antiques shop in Harmar Village, agreed.

“I plan to vote for the Sunday sales issue,” he said. “And opening Spagna’s on Sunday would definitely increase traffic throughout this district.”

Franklin Street resident Tanya Wentz said she, too, would support the ballot issue in favor of Sunday liquor sales at the restaurant and tavern.

“I often have dinner at the tavern, so I wouldn’t have any problem with it,” she said.

Across the street Susan Rutter also planned to vote in favor of the Sunday liquor sales.

“It can sometimes be difficult to get Sunday sales approved on a ballot issue, but if the issue is supported it will help boost sales in this area,” she said.

The only comments against the Sunday liquor sales came from a couple of folks at the Open Door Baptist Church on Franklin Street who wished to remain anonymous. They said the area did not need more sales of alcoholic beverages.

In Dunham Township the 33-year-old Lawnsdale Carry Out and Bar at the intersection of Ohio 7 and Briggs Hill Road is also seeking to sell wine and mixed drinks between 10 a.m. and midnight Sundays.

“We can only sell beer on Sundays, but if someone wants a glass of wine or mixed drink they’ll drive across the river into West Virginia. And a lot of people who come in here ask for a mixed drink,” said bar manager Jalayne Butz.

She said this is the first time Lawnsdale owner Bob Deem has placed the Sunday sales issue on a ballot.

“He wants to keep what business we have on this side of the river,” Butz added. “People have been passing out literature and going door-to-door, encouraging everyone to vote for the issue.”

The ballot issue seems to have some support from residents who live nearby.

“If it keeps people working I’m for it,” said Kenneth Keller whose home is just above the Lawnsdale establishment on Briggs Hill Road.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and the bar doesn’t cause any trouble, so I see no problem with the Sunday sales,” he said.

Briggs Hill Road residents Jim and Shirlene Abbott agreed.

“You can go into Belpre or Marietta and get mixed drinks-why not here?” Jim asked. “The Deem family has been in this area for some time, so I would support the issue.”

Shirlene said she would have no problem with the bar adding Sunday sales of wine and mixed drinks.

“We have a bigger problem with noise from the Fishbone Grill across the river where they play loud music late at night,” she said. “You don’t get that from the Lawnsdale.”

Calder Ridge Road resident Bill Johnston said he, too, will vote in favor of Sunday liquor sales at the Lawnsdale.

“I don’t have a problem with it, and I would like to see more business there,” he said. “They pay tax here in Dunham Township, and anything that generates more business helps.”

Johnston said he hopes there will be a good turnout from the township’s 1,100 registered voters on Tuesday.

“I’m always amazed that so many people don’t get out and vote during every election,” he said.