Liquor store wars: Board rules competitors are too close - News, Weather & Sports

Liquor store wars: Board rules competitors are too close

The Shelbyville Road location of Liquor Barn The Shelbyville Road location of Liquor Barn
Greg Anastas Greg Anastas
The Shelbyville Road location of Beverage Wearhouse The Shelbyville Road location of Beverage Wearhouse

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A St. Matthews liquor store is faced with the possibility of being forced to shut its doors. 

Liquor Barn on Shelbyville Road has less than four weeks left on its license after a ruling by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board December 26. Almost four years since the fight over the location started, the next step remains unclear, but for now, the owner of a neighboring liquor store feels like he won.

"To me this is like a David and Goliath story," said Greg Anastas, the owner of Beverage Warehouse. "I'm a small guy trying to make it."

Anastas said he looked to the St. Matthews neighborhood on Shelbyville Road when opening his fourth Beverage Warehouse in 2008.  

"I really love St. Matthews so it was just a really good spot to open a location in," he said.

A year later, he heard a new neighbor wanted to move in: Liquor Barn was interested in opening in a new building on an abandoned car lot.

"It was a little bit discouraging. It was a little bit overwhelming," Anastas said. "I didn't understand exactly what was going on and the distance law was that they couldn't do that."

Here's what Anastas means: Kentucky, Louisville Metro and St. Matthews all have laws governing how close one liquor store can be to another. In both Kentucky and St. Matthews, the minimum distance is 700 feet but the way that's measured differs.

Either way, since 2009, Beverage Warehouse has argued that Liquor Barn was too close. Liquor Barn maintained it was more than 700 feet away from its new neighbor and the ABC officer at the time in St. Matthews granted a license. In December, the state ABC board found that's not the case either under St. Matthews or Kentucky law and revoked Liquor Barn's license to sell alcohol, effective January 27.

"I'm glad I kind of stood up for what I thought was right and pushed forward on it all," Anastas said. "It's been painful and long but i think justice has prevailed."

A manager at Liquor Barn said she wouldn't comment, adding the store's attorneys are handling the issue but its business as usual. Anastas said he's prepared for that to turn into an appeal in court.

"I think they're going to continue to fight it," said Anastas. "I would if I were in their shoes. I don't know what they're going to do but that would be my guess."

Even Anastas says having Liquor Barn across the street hasn't hurt as badly as he first believed. Business took a hit by about 20% in the first year of competition, but Anastas said he's gotten support from locals and they're siding with David, not Goliath.

"I didn't want to be pushed out just because I'm smaller than the other guy," said Anastas.

Liquor Barn and its attorneys have 30 days to file an appeal in Franklin Circuit Court. It's unclear if the store would be allowed to continue to operate during the appeals process if that happened.

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