Local restaurant’s liquor license in question

A local restaurant’s liquor license is in question after the Kenai Peninsula Borough and City of Homer discovered the license holder was behind on taxes owed to the borough.

Young’s Downtown Restaurant &Inn, located on Pioneer Avenue, owes just over $23,500 in sales and property taxes to the borough. The Homer City Council voted at its Monday night meeting to protest the renewal of the establishment’s liquor license until the licensee, Ock Kyung Lee, is current on those taxes.

Lee said Tuesday that he has been in contact with the borough over the issue and planned to have the taxes resolved this week.

In voting Monday, council member Heath Smith said he worried whether protesting the liquor license would hinder the business’s ability to make the money needed to get current with the borough. Lee was not in attendance at the meeting when the liquor license came up.

“It probably would hamper their business because you can’t sell alcohol if you don’t have a valid liquor license,” said City Clerk Melissa Jacobsen while explaining the process to the council.

Jacobsen said the borough advised the city of Young’s delinquent taxes on March 16. The city was given notice of the restaurant’s application for renewal on March 6 from the Alcohol Control Board. Jacobsen said the city has 60 days from the application renewal notice to respond with a protest.

“I think what we do (by protesting the license) is facilitate ultimately the failure of them being able to do what they’ve agreed to do,” Smith said. “And I get that they owe those taxes and the business model obviously isn’t working. … It seems like just a recipe for failure.”

In the end, all council members voted to protest the liquor license.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is set to consider Lee’s liquor license at its May 1 meeting. According to the liquor license renewal application notice from the Alcohol Control Board, “if a protest is filed, the board will deny the application unless the board finds that the protest is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.