“It’s sad to think of pizza without beer,” says The Fire Place co-owner Julie Miller. “Or,” she says, thoughtfully, “beer without pizza.”
Miller, a farm kid from Gilford, worked at an organic pizzeria in Homer, Ala., for the last two summers. She decided she could very well serve organic, wood-fired pizza—and beer—on her own. In late September, she pulled into 241 W. Main and fell into instant infatuation with the empty space. Before leasing it, she asked the city’s Office of Planning and Grants (OPG) whether the space allowed for a beer and wine license, no gaming. Yes, indeed, she says she was told. When a license went up for bid, however, Miller learned she had been misinformed. In fact, in order to sell beer, she says, she’ll either need to win the lottery for a cabaret license in the fall, which limits her income from alcohol, or apply for a rezone, which will cost close to $2,000 just to apply.
Did someone at the city misinform Miller? “I think that’s possible,” says Mark Landkammer, a planner at OPG. “I think it was a miscommunication more than anything.” Asked who may have misinformed Miller (who doesn’t remember), Landkammer declines.
Just next door from the pizzeria, on the other side of the wall, the VFW serves beer.
Miller longs for the day when she can serve beer too, including her own brews, straight from The Crazy Lady Brewing Co.—don’t anyone steal the name, she says. In the meantime, she sees nothing but the bright side. Without the beer, she says, she has lost 8 pounds in three weeks, eating very little besides pizza.