Potential customers frequently stop by Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant to ask if the business has a bar, according to owner Maria Michel.
“Sometimes they just leave because we don’t,” she explained.
But she’s hoping that’s about to change.
Michel has applied for one of six available bar and grill licenses and, along with two other applicants, will be making a presentation at Casper City Council’s Tuesday night work session. After successfully operating in Casper for about 20 years, Michel said she believes the CY Avenue establishment deserves one of the licenses.
That said, she admitted she’s nervous about presenting.
“I’m really bad at speaking in front of people,” she said.
Guadalajara was turned down for a bar and grill license about 10 years ago, which Michel suspects is because City Council preferred to distribute them to new businesses.
Bar and grill licenses are less flexible than a full retail liquor license, as they require restaurants to make 60 percent of their profit from food. However, they still permit establishments to bring in more revenue from liquor than a regular restaurant liquor license.
Jim McBride, the operations manager for the soon-to-be-opened Branding Iron restaurant, said the downtown establishment already has a full retail liquor license.
However, the business is still applying for a bar and grill license Tuesday night because it’s hoping to use the retail liquor license for another purpose.
“We want to take the retail license that we were planning on operating on and putting it to its more effective use, which is opening a liquor store,” he explained.
If their application is turned down, McBride said the burger bistro — which is located along West Second Street — will use the retail license.
The third applicant is Marvin Piel, who plans to remodel a building at 100 N. Center St. He intends to serve American and Mexican food, according to the City Council meeting packet.
Wyoming law caps the number of bar and grill licenses that a city can issue based on population, but a recent legislative change allotted six additional licenses to Casper.
“The state Legislature rewrote the law and we are [now] allowed to have 14 for our city’s population of roughly 60,000 people,” Pete Meyers, assistant support services director for the city of Casper, previously told the Star-Tribune.
News of the additional licenses received a mixed response among Casper’s entrepreneurs.
Matt Galloway, the co-owner of The Keg and Cork sports bar and the newly opened The Gaslight Social bar, told the Star-Tribune that he hopes the city will refrain from issuing all the licenses at once because he doubts Casper’s population is large enough to support a sudden influx of drinking establishments.
Galloway also advised the city to consider giving the licenses to existing dining establishments.
Other business owners were more enthused.
Dana Packard, the general manager at Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, said an increase in competition pushes businesses to do their best.
“You need something kicking you in the (behind) to make sure you do a better job than you did yesterday,” she previously said.
The presentations will take place during City Council’s work session,which is held at 4:30 p.m. at Casper City Hall.