Patrons at Saint Lawrence Gridiron, 705 W. Bannock St., Boise, will have to wait for that finely crafted cocktail to go along with the restaurant’s signature smoked brisket platter.
The restaurant lost its liquor license last week when the license’s owner sold it to a new Downtown Boise hotel, says Gridiron owner Brian Garrett.
“We were leasing from a developer up north, and we were planning on re-upping for a more long-term deal,” Garrett says. “At the end of the term he told us the Downtown Marriott had purchased it.”
Idaho bases the number of available licenses on population, so there are a finite number in the market. (The formula is one license for every 1,500 people.) You can get on a waiting list to buy one directly from the state for $800 per year. It’s a lucrative investment as restaurants pay $1,500 or more per month for a lease.
To buy one on the open market you’d have to fork over between $160,000 and $170,000, Garrett says.
“For a small restaurant like us, it doesn’t make sense to buy one and being on the waiting list can take years,” Garrett says.
The Idaho State Police’s Alcohol Beverage Control is preparing to release several licenses in the coming weeks, says ABC’s Nichole Harvey. There currently are 55 people on that waiting list.
After July 1 of any year, as estimated population numbers come in, more licenses may or may not be created.
The people in line to purchase one now have been on the list since 2004 and 2005.
Garrett turned his food truck into a brick-and-mortar operation in 2014 and has been building a steady following ever since. His strong craft cocktail program is an important part of the success, he says.
That’s halted for the moment while Garrett seeks another hard liquor license to lease. He says, he is honing in on a possibility that he is hopeful will come through soon.
In the meantime, he’s stepping up his beer and wine selection and his bar manager Mitch Mandujano is concocting “temperance” cocktails made with beer and wine in the spirit of Prohibition.
“As weird as it is, these are the games we play,” Garrett says.