By ALLEN RAU

Staff Writer

arau@heraldandtribune.com

The Corner Cup is looking to extend its beverage options.

During Monday night’s Beer Board meeting, held prior to the Sept. 10 Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, the owner of The Corner Cup, Deb Kruse, submitted a letter to the BMA stating her intention to seek “an on-premise beer license without receiving our ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) license. We cannot currently obtain an ABC license due to the minimum 40 seat requirement. We currently have only 16 seats.”

Kruse spoke to the board about the plans she and the building’s co-owner, Melinda Copp, have for the future.

“What we’re looking at, because we have limited seating, is just a special permit that we can maybe once or twice a month, have receptions on the other half of the building,” Kruse said. “We have Mill Springs Makers Market and they’re (hosting) all local artists. We like to have receptions where we can feature our local artists. They can meet with people and serve beer and food.”

Alderman Terry Countermine spoke in favor of issuing the permit of The Corner Cup, “I think it’s a good idea. Certainly what they would do down there isn’t going to be like a ‘beer joint’.”

Mayor Chuck Vest, however, urged caution. “What’s the risk involved with this?,” Vest said. “To me, we know The Corner Cup, we know the establishment. What happens if we open this up and then somebody that’s not as well known or someone not having the best of intentions (requests a permit)?”

Vest’s concern was setting up a loophole that might be abused by future applicants for an on-premise beer permit.

The main issue was square footage versus seats.

For any establishment to obtain an ABC license, one of the conditions is a minimum seating capacity of 40 seats. The building housing the Corner Cup also contains the Mill Springs Makers Market, which adds considerable square footage, but no seating, as it is a retail store.

Someone trying to slip through a loophole might have a building with ample square footage for 40 seats but not want to install such seating, and still request a beer permit from the BMA without being required to obtain an ABC license.

While The Corner Cup building could hold much more seating, Kruse and Copp set up their businesses to maximize retail space.

As Town Administrator Bob Browning said, “I guess you could say, they’ve chosen to do retail in one part of the building as opposed to adding seats in there. I think it’s reasonable to say from an economic standpoint it’s in their best interest.”

“My concern is not you (to Kruse). I like what you’re doing. It’s to make sure we address anybody in the future that might want to do something that kind of gets around a loophole,” Vest added.

The BMA decided to defer action on The Corner Cup’s petition while the town staff and the town attorney worked on the amendment. A final decision will be made at a future Beer Board meeting.