Voters in the only dry municipality in the badger state will soon have the chance to decide if Ephraim business owners can sell beer and wine.
A few business owners in the village say it’s time to revisit if Ephraim should allow them to sell beer and wine.
They say not being able to sell any type of alcohol is keeping people from staying and dining in Ephraim.
The village has been dry since 1853.
“The understanding is the tradition of the early settlers coupled with the ordinances that came later have made us dry since founding,” says Village Administrator, Brent Bristol.
Two attempts by petitioners asking Ephraim voters to approve the sale of alcohol in 1934 and 1992 failed.
“During the past 30 years, things have changed,” says Hugh Mulliken.
Mulliken, a businessman and inn-owner, says that’s why he and fellow businessman Fred Bridenhagen, brought two petitions to the village hall.
One petition asks for businesses to be able to sell beer on or off the businesses’ property. The second petition asks that restaurants be allowed to sell wine.
“I think it’s time we revisit the issue and perhaps come to the conclusion that it’s not going to kill the village to have beer and wine served with dinner,” says Mulliken.
Mulliken and other business owners say, if anything, it’s hurting the village to not allow the sale of beer and wine.
“We’ve had, on rare occasion, people not stay with us because they couldn’t walk to a place where they could have dinner and drink wine at the same time,” explains Mulliken.
“Restaurants have told me that people have actually got up and left when they found out they couldn’t get a glass of wine with dinner. We’re not on the same playing field as the other towns,” says Bridenhagen.
Craig Neddersen, the owner of Eagle Harbor Inn, says some villagers worry that allowing the sale of alcohol would mean a bigger and more developed Ephraim.
“The truth is, by bringing in beer and wine, that’s not going to speed up development. That’s just going to allow some of the service industry in town to offer beer and wine and for someone to bring us a grocery store so we don’t have to drive six miles to get a carton of milk,” says Neddersen.
“Nothing bad can come from finding out, you know, the pulse of the community,” says Bristol.
Ephraim voters will vote on the two referenda questions on April 5th.