It’s not the drinks at Marion VFW Post 6958 that are on the rocks, it’s the club itself, after Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control voided its liquor license in May for nonpayment of fees.
The bar has been closed for nearly six weeks, and manager Ida French gets calls and messages from patrons almost daily.
“They just keep asking when we’re going to be open,” she said. “They’re patiently waiting.”
French said she didn’t know anything was awry until she received KABC’s notice the first week of May.
“It was a big shocker when it happened,” she said. “Our license states it’s good until 2017.”
Post commander Warren Kreutziger also was caught off guard.
“They say they sent three letters out to us about needing to get it renewed, and we didn’t get them,” Kreutziger said. “Nobody that we know of got them.”
Post quartermaster Bill Keith had taken care of license renewals up until his death in May 2015. French, his daughter, said that could have led to miscommunication, although the state was notified of a change in contacts.
“We had no clue, because Dad did all the paperwork,” she said. “We went from one person doing paperwork to nobody knowing anything to me trying to work this out. I spent three days calling and talking to people, trying to explain what happened.”
The license had been in good standing since 1977, but that didn’t buy the post any grace when French tried to plead the club’s case with KABC, she said. The agency wouldn’t accept late payment.
“I was told, ‘There’s nothing we can do for you; you’ll have to apply for a new license,” French said.
That license comes with a hefty price. In addition to a $500 fee and $50 processing charge, the VFW had to provide a new $1,000 nonrefundable bond. The old one was forfeited when the license was canceled.
While waiting for KABC to issue a new license, the club is losing out on money to pay bills and upgrade the facility.
“It’s not a lot, but it always has been some,” Kreutziger said, “enough to keep the place going. In the very near future we’re supposed to have a construction company coming in. We’re supposed to have eight or nine campers coming in there. That would increase the bar quite a bit.”
The club draws a variety of patrons in addition to its regular clientele, French said.
“It varies from week to week,” she said. “Sometimes we’re packed, other times it’s a nice group of 15 to 20 people, and some nights it’s slow.”
Kreutziger expressed frustration with the miscommunication and the process.
“We had the license for 30 some years, and we’ve never had a problem with it,” he said. “The state’s so hard up for money you’d think they’d want to get it back operating so they can get income again.”
French received a phone call Tuesday from KABC. She should have the license in hand Friday.
“I have to get the city license sorted out after I get the one from the state,” she said. “We will be open for business next week for sure.”