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Winery owner says obtaining liquor license crucial to rebuilding after fire

Posted at 10:32 PM, Nov 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 11:36:58-05

MANCHESTER, Ohio — Moyer Winery and Restaurant, which caught fire and burned to the ground in June 2019, is looking to reopen, but the owner said the business's future hinges on a vote to allow the business to obtain a liquor license.

"If it does not pass, there is the chance that we will never be able to reopen," said Ken Smith, owner of the winery.

The fire destroyed the main building, damaged much of the winery's equipment and left around 30 employees without a job last year. At the time, Smith said he wasn't sure the business would be able to rebuild or recover. Now, he said he's trying but to start making wine again, he needs funding. To get that funding, he's hoping a liquor license can allow the winery to sell other types of alcohol on site.

Smith said he's also purchased a food truck and is hoping to bring in additional income through that as well.

"Currently we have zero income, and that's gotta change," said Smith.

He hopes to reopen the winery next summer, if the liquor license passes. It's faced significant opposition from a group called Adams County for Christian Values.Leaders of the organization declined requests for an interview.

The group argues that tax revenue from the liquor license won't pay for an increased need for police, or other problems they believe could arise. They said Moyer could still start making money through wine, for which the business already has a separate license.

"That's like asking a car dealer -- or telling a car dealership that they can only sell cars, they can't sell trucks," said Smith. He said the money would help the township and local community, in the form of tens of thousands in taxes and nearly half a million dollars in wages.

Voters in Adams County have the opportunity to decide on the liquor license, and that of other liquor license requests in Peebles and Lynx, on ballots this election.

"It's going to be a challenge if it doesn't pass," said Smith. "We'll have to try to build, immediately, a facility that we can have the tanks back and have wine again from the get-go. I'd rather work toward that."