The request came from Cliff McCumber, who owns the 5th St. Food
In the end the commission granted the request, but final
approval must come from the city council.
In attendance at the meeting were commissioners Les Plotner,
Keith Snyder and Dan Wheat, along with city attorney Blinn Bates and
In the city of Lincoln there are numerous types of liquor
licenses available, but the three most commonly used are Classes A,
B and C.
Class A is a package license that allows businesses to sell
closed containers of liquor during specific hours of the day. Class
B is a tavern license that allows the business to sell liquor for
consumption on or off the premises. In this license there is a
condition that at least 50 percent of the alcohol sold is consumed
on the premises. The Class C license is for restaurant use. Liquor
may be sold for consumption on the premises, but at least 60 percent
of the total receipts for any given day have to be for the purchase
McCumber came to the commission asking that they create a new
license commonly referred to as a pour license. He said this license
would allow him to "pour" from an open container a maximum of four
12-ounce glasses of beer or wine to a customer for consumption on
his business premises.
He told the commissioners early on that he really isn't
interested in serving liquor, doesn't care if nobody would buy it,
but he needs this pour license so he can offer video gaming in his
McCumber said that as a convenience store, he can't have the
gaming, but he is trying to compete with businesses such as
Thorntons and Beck's, both on the west edge of town. These two
businesses sell convenience products and fuel, just as McCumber
does, but because they are truck stops, they can also have video
gaming, while McCumber cannot.
McCumber's plan, should the license be approved, is to partition
a portion of his store off from the general public, leaving only a
doorway into a room where liquor would be poured to clients as they
play the video gambling machines.
McCumber said that with gas that particular day at $3.38 a
gallon, he is losing 23 cents a gallon in his business. Adding the
video gaming would add to his bottom line and make it easier for him
to maintain his business in Lincoln.
He commented that he is a local businessman with a small business
in town. He's been a 25-year resident of Lincoln, his kids go to
school here, and he is a member of the community. He also noted that
both Thorntons and Beck's are corporate-owned, with their business
profits going to another location, not Lincoln.
In addition, he said having the gaming and the pour license would
enable him to hire more employees.
He pointed out that the city would benefit from this through the
state's distribution of gaming profits, as it would add more
machines in Lincoln. Additionally, McCumber said the city could
benefit from having another licensing fee, and he suggested that
they make it expensive.
He told the group that as a businessman, he was trying to "think
outside the box" in growing his business. He noted that when
convenience stores first started, that, too, was thinking outside
the box, as no one imagined offering retail products inside a gas
station until the first one happened and was a success. He finished
those comments by saying that now, these types of businesses are the
norm, and you don't see many businesses that are just gas stations.
[to top of second column]
When discussion began, Plotner asked if McCumber planned to
sell beer on tap. McCumber answered that he supposed he could,
but he really doesn't want to do that. His idea is to pour beer
into a glass from a bottle or can. McCumber added that he does
not believe anyone will come to his establishment just to drink.
Plotner also questioned the volume of wine to be poured. Four
12-ounce glasses is roughly four cans of beer. By industry
standards, a bottle of wine in a standard size is 25 ounces and a
magnum is double that. Therefore four 12-ounce glasses of wine would
equate to one magnum bottle. Plotner wondered if people consumed
that much wine, wouldn't they leave the establishment a little
McCumber said that happens anyway in taverns and other
establishments. He also noted that he has the right to refuse to
serve someone who seems to have had too much. Along that same topic,
he said his clerks already do that on the package side. If they have
a customer whom they believe is drunk, they do refuse to sell to
The commissioners then talked about who else could apply for a
pour license. It was noted that any business that sold package
liquor and had the ability to establish a separate gaming room could
seek the same permissions. They named off other convenience stores
in town and also drugstores and grocers that sell liquor.
The discussion moved on to where to add the license. Bates said
it could be done as an extension to the existing Class A license and
be labeled an "Aa."
They moved on to talk about the cost and how the license would be
established. The criteria ended up being that the business
establishment must first hold a package liquor license at a cost of
$1,250 annually. The business may then apply for a pour license at
an additional cost of $1,125 annually.
Bates advised the commissioners that he could research the topic
and draw out an ordinance for the city of Lincoln. It will then have
to be presented to the city council, and they will hold the final
decision as to whether or not to permit a new license type in the
city of Lincoln.
In each liquor license class, there is a limit to the number of
licenses the city will issue. The group decided to establish only
five pour licenses, but stated that if they needed more, they could
increase that number later.
When all the discussion was finished, a motion to create the
license was made. Plotner and Wheat both voted yes with Snyder
voting no. Snyder commented that he felt a Class B license would be
sufficient for the request and that no new license was needed. He
also commented that he didn't believe this was a change that was
needed in this community.
With two yeses, the motion carried. Bates will prepare the
ordinance for the council, but Snyder also advised Plotner and Wheat
that because of his own "no" vote, they will have to attend the
council meeting and present the request to aldermen.
[By NILA SMITH]