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Bistro's Liquor License May Be Key to New Tenants

'It took us 17 years to get one.'


Owners of the Brick Oven Bistro are holding sway in talks with businesses eyeing the restaurant's location on Grove Plaza. While the building's owners look for a tenant, Bistro owners Stephanie Telesco and Jeff Nee (who leased the location for 11 years) are looking to interest a possible buyer for their liquor license, which could carry a hefty price tag.

"I know [the new tenant] hasn't been official yet," said Nee. "When it is, we'll see if they have an interest."

In Idaho, businesses can sell liquor licenses to other entities. While Nee said he doesn't have a specific price he's looking for, he's heard the licenses can net six-digit prices.

"The last sale that I'm aware of was around $125,000," he said "I know there's one being advertised that's $135,000."

It took Nee and Telesco quite some time to inch their way to the top of Idaho's Alcohol Beverage Control list to secure a liquor license.

"It took us 17 years to get one," said Nee. "We had almost forgotten about it, and then they called us up and said, 'your number came up.'"

ABC Supervisor Nichole Harvey told Citydesk a liquor license can revert back to the state when a business closes up shop, or it may be transferred by sale or lease agreement after the license is 2-years-old. She added supply and demand dictate the price.

"They're really worth what anybody's willing to pay for them," said Harvey. "You might see somebody willing to pay $200,000 in Ketchum, while in the city of Meridian, where there's only a few people on the [waiting] list, somebody might be willing to pay $60,000."

Nee said the Bistro's license will come of age in January 2013--the same month the eatery's lease agreement is up.

"Liquor licenses must be available for actual sales," said Harvey. "There's no down time for a liquor license. They must always be in use and have that liquor available for actual sale."

Nee said both local and non-local businesses have considered the space, while the building's landlords have indicated that they would prefer a locally owned tenant.

But Nee said he's not overly concerned about finding a buyer for his liquor license.

"I'm not worried about trying to find a market right away," said Nee. "I think there's a bunch of people out there that would like to get one."