CALEDONIA — It was the early ”80s when longtime Caledonia grocery store, Killebrew”s, began selling beer from its coolers.
Killebrew”s was located on Main Street right across from Town Hall and within a hundred feet of Caledonia United Methodist Church.
All was well until the store began advertising Budweiser in its front window, which didn”t sit well with local leaders.
So when town aldermen found a 1945 ordinance banning the sale of beer within 1,500 feet of a school or church, they enforced the rule. The Killebrew family challenged the ordinance in 1982, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court, recalled Jeff Smith, town attorney.
The court ruled in favor of the town of Caledonia: Even though the ordinance was old and had not been enforced, it was still valid, Smith said.
“It was real controversial,” he remembered. “As I recall, they got a license to sell beer, had inquired about an ordinance and (initially) no one found it.”
Killebrew”s — opened in 1976 — is no longer in business; the store closed its doors after 25 years in the town.
Now, another Caledonia business owner wants to offer beer to its patrons.
Leslie Carnathan, owner of Mi Toro Restaurant on South Street, just off Main Street in Caledonia, wants to sell beer and light wine at her establishment “to stay competitive with restaurants in surrounding communities, including Columbus.”
Carnathan met with the Caledonia Board of Aldermen last week at their regular meeting to ask them to consider modifying the town”s beer ordinance. The board agreed to take the matter under advisement.
Currently, the ordinance — last modified in 1983 — only allows the sale of “hot” beer at retail establishments. And beer cannot be consumed on the premises of any retail establishment nor on any town streets.
Cal City Grocery, at 29 Main St. toward the northwestern edge of town, is the only store in the town selling beer. Open for more than 30 years and already selling cold beer, Cal City was exempt from the 1983 revisions to the beer ordinance stating beer only could be “sold hot.”
The original 1945 ordinance says beer cannot be sold within 1,500 feet of a church or school. Additionally, violators of the ordinance, as amended in 1983, face a fine of $100 to $500 for each violation or imprisonment for up to 30 days.
Caledonia Church of Christ is located within 150 feet of Mi Toro.
“It has been built within the last year,” Caledonia Mayor George Gerhart said of the church, which rebuilt near its old location on Main Street after a 2008 tornado leveled its building. “The Methodist church on Main Street (also) is within 1,500 feet.”
Carnathan said she wants to provide the people of Caledonia a place to eat, and those who choose to have beer or wine with their meal a chance to do so.
“We want to provide a quality place for people in Caledonia to eat. By selling beer and light wine during the week, this helps us to keep food prices down and helps employees to keep jobs,” said Carnathan, who welcomes ideas and suggestions from Caledonia citizens.
“We would like their opinion about the sale of beer on Sunday, as well as suggestions on selling it in designated areas of the restaurant,” she said.
Kay Poole, of Caledonia, said she would not mind the restaurant serving beer or light wine.
“It does not bother me. It should be a personal choice,” she said.
Jackie Howard, of Hamilton, is in favor of Mi Toro selling beer and light wine.
“It would be more economical for me to drive from Hamilton to Caledonia than go somewhere else to have a beer with my meal,” Howard said.
Many other Caledonia residents asked whether or not they would support the sale of beer and wine at Mi Toro declined to comment.
Carnathan plans to address the board again at their regular meeting in December.
“I would like to, if possible, have a special meeting with them,” she said.
Gerhart is not planning to hold a public hearing on the matter.
“This is going to be left up to the board at our next meeting,” he said.
Gerhart has asked Smith to research the ordinance and present his findings at the next regular meeting, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m., at Caledonia Town Hall on Main Street.
Allen Baswell was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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