Pricey liquor licenses affecting small businesses in Mishawaka

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Have you ever wondered why there are so many chain restaurants around Mishawaka?

Well, it turns out liquor licenses have a lot to do with it. In most parts of Mishawaka a license costs a quarter of a million dollars, if not more.

Rocco Zappia, the owner of Roc's bar and restaurant, it is just one of many local business owners cashing in on the incentives downtown Mishawaka offers.

"Now there are three of us and it's a lot more lively down here, especially on the weekends. At night there are a lot of people walking around, which is great to see because it's downtown Mishawaka. There's a lot of history here," said Zappia.

Zappia says a major reason he moved his restaurant from Edison Road to downtown Mishawaka was to take advantage of the yearly $1,000 liquor license available only to businesses in the district. A discount that is saving Zappia from spending over $250,000 elsewhere for the same license.

"If you are 1,500 feet from the river you can get one of these licenses. So, we went with that and that was a big influence for coming to downtown Mishawaka, Said Zappia.

Mayor Dave Wood says the city has little control over the state regulations and market pricing for both land and liquor licenses in the area. However, the mayor says the city jumped at the opportunity to use a newly pasted law in order to incorporate downtown Mishawaka into the zoning area around the river walk area.

'Liquor licenses are available in really an unlimited quantity with in this district for a much reduced price. However, they are tied to this area and they cannot leave it, Said Wood.

Still, the big problem remains. If you go to other parts of the city, Zappia says it takes a lot of money, which is tough for small business owners. who are looking to start a business.

"Before you even start digging a hole --- between the land and the liquor license your looking at over a million dollars," said Zappia.

According to the mayor, there are several more businesses coming to the area. Many of those are national chains like Cheddars, which will require a liquor license. 

Although the mayor is pleased these businesses  want to call Mishawaka home, it will only continue to drive up the price of land and liquor licenses here in the area. In effect, hurting small business throughout the city.

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