Is one of Shreveport's liquor laws blocking new business? The city council will consider replacing the ordinance that put a cork in one couple's big idea -- at least for now.
In a growing retail area right off the Southern Loop near Norris Ferry Road, Corks & Cuts recently opened. But without the cuts. A cooler itended to hold cuts of steaks and other meats sits empty. There's more room for other items in other coolers.
But all Derrek and Candace Amidon can stock for now are the bottles with corks -- along with beer, liquor and daiquiris. They say they'd been working with the city's permits department and thought their business model was a go.
"At no point until we were ready to get our license, and that's when the ABO officer come in and said you can not do your steaks and your high alcohol," Candace Amidon said.
Under current Shreveport law, stores that sell high alcohol content liquor plus other goods, must have a separate entrance and at least a 6-foot high barrier.
As it stands now, in order to sell both the liquor and cuts of meat, the Amidons say they'd have to do about a $60,000 buildout in the space next door. They'd rather just have a one-stop shop where they are."
Says Derrek Amidon of their target customers, "They're looking to get a cut of steak so they can take it home and grill. We think we should be able to offer that to them without them having to go to two different places to get that."
The Shreveport City Council may vote to replace the law, and simply require that you must be 21 to enter establishments that sell hard liquor. Corks & Cuts already has that rule.
"Shreveport is the only city in the state of Louisiana that has a separate entrance on the books," says District D Councilman Grayson Boucher, who is proposing the change.
Boucher says if the council agrees to his proposal, "It opens up for other businesses to come to Shreveport. I believe that it gives people opportunities to open up other businesses."
But two other liquor store owners are fighting the change. Ron Lepow, who owns Cuban Liquor, told the council, "This is not a small deal. The change would also put some locally owned liquor stores out of business. It would cost jobs in those stores and in some of the surviving stores who lost business. And those jobs would not be replaced in those grocery stores that picked up that business."
The owners of Thrifty Liquor stores also oppose the change. But Derrek Amidon says it's time for the old law to go.
"It's really just to protect two retailers here in Shreveport that really don't want the competition of other small businesses coming up," he says.