NEW WILMINGTON – Before Todd Ulicny bought The Tavern on The Square in New Wilmington, the former owner had an agreement with The Fractured Grape, a winery standing about 30 feet away.
“Appetizers served in the winery could be ordered from The Tavern, and Tavern customers could carry bottles of wine into the restaurant.” he said. “They got along fine, but that arrangement was gone before I took over.”
Ulicny purchased The Tavern at 108 N. Market St. on March 25, 2018. He has spent his time growing his business and promoting the recent alcohol initiative to allow a limited number of liquor licenses into the borough. He said he saw this as a part of his business plan necessary for the restaurant to thrive.
New Wilmington voters in the May 21 preliminary election supported the measure by a 240 to 211 vote, opening the municipality to the possibility of alcohol-serving businesses. Ulicny immediately submitted his application for a restaurant liquor license so he can serve beer, wine and eventually cocktails at his restaurant and outside patio.
But he may be competing with Big Pauly’s Varsity Club.
Following the election, attorney Paul Lynch, who purchased the former Fractured Grape site at 115 E. Neshannock Ave. on May 22, also applied for a restaurant liquor license. The neighboring buildings are both posted with bright orange Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board public notices of application for alcoholic beverages.
Noting that two applications for a liquor license have been filed and a third applicant is expected, New Wilmington borough council members wondered how multiple licenses would affect the borough and if they, as elected officials, could have a say in who gets a liquor license.
Borough solicitor Frank Verterano said both applications won’t necessarily be awarded. He added that the PLCB alone will make the decision on the first license issued. Borough officials, he said, may have input on future applicants.
“The referendum passed, so someone is eligible for a liquor license,” he said.
He also said council members and anyone else may submit comments and recommendations on the applications to be considered by the liquor board.
After the council meeting, Ulicny said he believes that he submitted the first application and will be granted the borough’s first restaurant liquor license.
“I don’t know all the legalities involved,” he said. “But my attorney said it is 100 percent guaranteed that I will get the first license.”
He said LID (liquor identification) numbers are awarded in sequence “My number is earlier than his,” he said of the Lynch application. “I’m not worried.”
Efforts to reach Lynch were unsuccessful.
In anticipation that his application will be selected, Ulicny said, he is planning improvements.
“We will need more refrigeration if we’ll be dealing with new alcohol products,” he said. “That’s been my interest now. Getting new refrigeration, finding room for it.”
He added that he hopes his application will be approved and he will be able to serve alcohol at his restaurant by late July or early August.
“Right now we’re waiting for Lawrence County voters office to certify the results to Harrisburg,” he said. “I’m told they’re supposed to do this by next week.
“The LCB has done nothing yet. They’re waiting to get the certified results of the voters before they take any action.”