West St. Catherine Neighborhood Association

Proposed "Dry" Vote in Old Louisville

Jan 18, 2007

In July, Amici Italian Cafe opened at 316 W. Ormsby. Owner Sharon Reissinger, formerly of 3rd Ave Cafe and BBC (on Fourth), is an Old Louisville resident, herself, and has dedicated her business life to providing our neighborhood with fine food at affordable prices, in a friendly atmosphere.

Amici delivers all of that.

Recently, however, in light of Sharon's opposition to the proposal to turn Old Louisville into a ''dry'' area, she has come under attack from several vocal--and many anonymous--elements within our neighborhood.

As Sharon correctly maintains, if Old Louisville is deemed a ''dry'' neighborhood, we will lose all of the establishments which sell liquor--not just Rite-Aid and the small liquor stores. These lost businesses will include Amici, Buck's, Carly Rae's, The Granville Inn, The Mag Bar, The Rudyard Kipling, and The Tavern.

Independent restaurant owners in this area--except for the fast food variety--CAN NOT survive on the tiny profit made from food alone. It's not their fault that we have panhandlers at Rite-Aid, armed-robbery-for-drug-money, and break-ins near the many half-way houses the city dumps on us. But these nearsighted folks who are pushing the ''dry'' vote actually believe that ridding the neighborhood of resturants that serve wine and liquor with dinner will contribute to a decline in our crime rate. They must also think that empty buildings and the end of new business in Old Louisville are desirable goals for our community.

Sharon Reissinger has been vocal in her opposition to this proposal. She has also spearheaded meetings with the local police division in order to convince them that our neighborhood needs to be protected as diligently as Bardstown Rd. against crime. She jealously guards and protects her block of Ormsby against panhandlers and drunks.

As any smart business person should, she realizes that driving business away from the neighborhood is NOT the answer to our crime problems. She knows that a neighborhood with fine restaurants is a neighborhood where residents walk to dinner, and their very presence on the sidewalks helps to deter crime. She knows that a neighborhood with restaurants, where residents can meet and take their guests, is a neighborhood which attracts other businesses. What gallery owner, for instance, would want to open in an area where his clients couldn't eat as they shop?

But because Sharon has chosen to stand up to those who would drive her out of the neighborhood, she has been the target of some vicious written and verbal attacks.

Personally, I don't drink, but I love taking visitors to some of our wonderful neighborhood establishments, where they can enjoy a cocktail with their meals, if they so choose.

Our problems are not brought about by the responsible restaurant owners who sell drinks with meals. Yet a blanket ''dry'' designation must, by Kentucky law, include restaurants.

Those who are pushing this proposal aren't willing to take the same responsibility for their neighborhood that the West St. Catherine Neighborhood took, last year, when we were inundated with drug dealers. After making our concerns known to the police and still feeling underserved, we took matters into our own hands--walking the streets at night, reporting any and all suspicious activity, etc., eventually driving the dealers out. Our streets are safer now, than they've been in years.

If you value a neighborhood with fine restaurants, then please please please support them. Dine at Amici or Carly Rae's, instead of venturing to Bardstown Rd., the next time you eat out. Show them you care about their efforts to serve this neighborhood, by pioneering new business in an area that needs it.

Show these owners that the gamble they've taken on us was worth it

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