by Lisa Tome
That's how Earl Bradford, Chief Inspector for the Cecil County Liquor Board, sums up the current availability of liquor licenses.
The past few years have been challenging for businesses which serve liquor. Blame the economy and a nine percent liquor tax.
There are currently 42 liquors licenses available in Cecil County.
In the last three years, renewals have dropped. From May 1, 2012 until April 30, 2013, 12 licenses were not reissued.
Liquor licenses are granted according to population by election district. Of the 42 licenses currently available, all are north of the C&D Canal. There are none available in Cecilton and two are currently grandfathered in. Chesapeake City also has a pending license and none available. There are nine licenses available in Elkton, five in Fair Hill, nine in North East, four in Rising Sun, seven in Port Deposit, one in Conowingo, and eight in Calvert.
"We are not issuing liquor licenses as fast as the population is growing.
Once spring gets here, it will pick up, hopefully," said Bradford.
Back in 2009, Cecil had an all time high licenses issued with 160.
"The cost of running a business is more. Everything is going up except the profit margin," said Bradford.
In the past few years, Cecil has lost establishments, some long standing, that served alcohol. These include the Patriot's Glen Club House in Elkton, Crown Liquors in Perryville, Howard House in Elkton, Lafayette Inn in Rising Sun, Pub on Main in Elkton, and Pasquale's in Perryville, and five establishments in Port Deposit - The Bee's Nest, Crabbe Depot, The Hidden Bean, Susky River Grille, and C.M. Tugs
"I remember a day when as soon as a license was available, someone took it," said Bradford.
Minihane's Irish Pub is open in the former Howard House. Lee's Landing Seafood Company is coming to Port Deposit at the site of the former Susky River Grille.
In other news from the Cecil County Liquor Board:
The county is once again participating in Operation Stay Alert.
Under that grant-funded program, two checks are performed at liquor serving establishments. With the first check, a 21-year-old buys liquor to ensure that store/bar staffers are checking identification.
With the second check, someone underage attempts to purchase alcohol. Bradford said that 16 of 75 locations sold without checking ID. That is an improvement over a past check.