November 28, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 47

Burger and a G&T at 33 Mile?

Patrons of the 33 Mile Roadhouse may soon be able to sip gin and tonics with their burgers.

Owner Robbie Harris is applying to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to do business as the 33 Mile Saloon and sell hard liquor. The restaurant currently can sell only beer and wine, and revenue from those sources can’t exceed the sale of food.

The license would require all hard liquor to be sold only for consumption on the property; it’s not a package license to sell bottles of liquor.

Harris said he hopes to secure the license before investing in the construction of a 500 to 700-square-foot lounge area on the west side of the existing building. “If I don’t have the license, there’s no sense in dumping another $80,000 to $100,000 into the building,” he said.

The lounge will feature a small bar, some tables and chairs, and a picture window for enjoying the view, Harris said.

The addition of the lounge will help separate patrons there to relax, drink and socialize – for example, heli-skiers who are staying in the roadhouse’s cabins – from the tourist families who just want to stop by for a burger and fries.

“I’m hoping we can contain the skiers on the property so we can keep them off the roads, basically,” Harris said. “We are just trying to satisfy the customers we do have here.”

Harris considered applying for a lodge license, but that would only allow him to sell liquor to people staying on the property. Harris said he wants to accomodate both groups: those staying at the roadhouse, and those just popping in for a drink.

Harris is in the process of advertising his application – required for three weeks – before it goes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Board director Shirley Cote said once the application is reviewed, which must be completed within 10 days, it will be forwarded to the Haines Borough. An item will be added to the borough’s agenda, and the municipality has 60 days to object.

If the borough protests issuance of the license, the board must uphold the municipality’s decision unless it deems the protest “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable,” Cote said.

Reasons for protesting are diverse, she said. “Mostly, if people aren’t paying their taxes; that is the biggest reason. They don’t feel that particular license in that particular location would be in the best interest of the public. Maybe the background of the licensee makes them feel like it isn’t in the best public interest.”

Mayor Stephanie Scott said she understands why a restaurant like 33 Mile would get into the liquor business: that’s where all the profits come from.

“I don’t foresee any objections to (the application),” Scott said.

Harris said he has only received positive feedback on the application thus far, mainly from people who will be happy to have a bar to patronize out the highway. “They are just glad they don’t have to go into town,” he said.

“All I can do is keep trying to make it better and please everybody. The way it was and the way things are now, it doesn’t pay its way,” he said.

Interested persons should submit written comment to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board at 2400 Viking Drive, Anchorage, AK 99501.