Our big prayer request going into the hearing on Monday was that God would move in a powerful way before the hearing even took place. I realized on Monday how slow I can be to believe that God will actually choose to answer prayers like that.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Pablo’s legal representative outside of the room where the hearing would be held. As we waited together for the room to open, this gentleman informed us of a few amendments to their proposal. First, they had removed their request to sell hard alcohol, period. Second, they were eliminating the bar area inside the restaurant. Third, they were only requesting the ability to sell beer and wine with a sit-down food purchase. And lastly, they had scaled back the hours of operation to close nightly at 9pm. Additionally, they had entered a lease agreement with a church located a block away to use nine parking spaces in that lot, and their plan now is to offer free valet service and park customer’s cars at the church, in addition to utilizing the few spaces available on the property.
After hearing all of this, we were of course very pleased, and while we still took the time in the hearing to voice our concerns, I feel almost certain that the city will rule in their favor.
It is clear from their initial proposal that their business plan includes the sale of hard liquor, the operation of a bar, and the sale of alcohol without food. The language they used on Monday in describing their amended proposal was very clearly laced with words like “for now” and “for this next year”, or “for a set time”. I feel confident that if the ruling goes as we think it will, the restaurant will open, and one or two or three years later, we will be back in that room facing their request for the full liquor provisions they initially desired. So it goes.
It was great to meet Pablo and his wife. They are long-term residents of our neighborhood, and their kids attend local schools. They seem like kind and genuine people who are looking to make a positive investment in the neighborhood. When they open, we will certainly become patrons.
However, as everyone acknowledged, liquor sales fuel profits, and the slick representation they had would not have come cheaply. I firmly believe that we will have a fight on our hands in two years.
In the meantime, I am praising God for hearing our (and many of your) prayers and acting so visibly on our behalf.