Process of Obtaining Liquor Licenses in Twin Falls


By KMVT News

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV )

Two businesses in Twin Falls, Scooters and Buffalo Wild Wings, obtained their liquor licenses at the City Council meeting.

Jane McCarron has owned River Rock Grill with her husband for 17 years. When the opportunity to buy a liquor license arose eight years ago, she went for it.

Says McCarron, "It does pay off. I think it is worth having in the area. It is a unique situation that Idaho has created so I think it's worth that to provide to our customers that option."

That unique situation she's describing is the process of issuing licenses on a per capita basis.

Licenses are issued for every 1,500 people in a city.

If that number is met, a business either gets on a waiting list, or buys the license from an existing owner.

Russ Wheatley with the Idaho State Police says, “the challenge is licenses can be sold so if you are an owner you can sell it for whatever someone was willing to pay you for it. There is a market out there that dictates what the price will be and the places where there is a more extensive waiting list they become more valuable.”

To put it in perspective, the last three liquor licenses sold in Twin Falls for an average of $81,000 dollars.

That's far from what the city would charge at $562.50.

Sharon Bryan, Twin Falls Deputy City Clerk, notes, “I know that there are restaurants and stuff that have looked at coming in but when they find out they can't get a liquor license that's a determining factor of whether they come in or not.”

Wheatley adds, “people don't realize the volume of licenses that we handle here. We know people have a lot riding on these licenses but there are very strict laws and rules on how this can be done and that sometimes causes some frustration for folks.”

For many businesses, it's simply a waiting game.

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