Two Local Municipalities Looking to Get ‘Wet’

| May 15, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Two local municipalities will be looking at more than just new council members during this month’s election.

Voters in the boroughs of Barkeyville and Utica will be looking at a question on their ballots on the sale of alcohol, ultimately deciding whether to go from “dry” to “wet” municipalities.

In Barkeyville, the question was apparently sparked by investors interested in the possibility of bringing a major restaurant to the borough, according to Barkeyville Borough Council President Warren Wetzel.

“I was told it was to entice a major restaurant like Applebee’s or Olive Garden or something like that. We also have a gentleman who has expressed interesting in putting a micro-distillery in Barkeyville, as well,” Wetzel told

Barkeyville’s proximity to Interstate 80 already makes it an attractive locaton for commercial businesses, and adding the possibility of liquor sales could further enhance that draw.

“If we could entice a nice restaurant here, I think it would be good for the local communities here and also good for Venango County,” Wetzel noted.

“I can’t say right now which way it might go. I have some people for it and some people against it. Like I always tell people, you just vote your conscience.”

In Utica Borough, one particular business is the driving force behind the push to go from “dry” to “wet”.

Krabby Kelly’s is a seasonal convenience store located along French Creek that opened in 2015 and sells everything from pop, coffee, snacks, and cigarettes to bait and miscellaneous camping items.

“We get a lot of campers, kayakers, and bikers,” said co-owner Beth Bryan.

According to Bryan, Krabby Kellys’s, which she co-owns with her husband, Kenneth Bryan, along with Barry and Kelly Lewellyn, purchased a liquor license to sell six-packs of beer and wine coolers.

“It’s just another option we’re hoping to offer,” Bryan said.

Bryan also noted that Utica had a question regarding liquor sales on a ballot two years ago that passed, but due to an issue of terminology, it has to be put back on the ballot again.

“It already passed two years ago, but there was some wrong terminology, so when we purchased license, we found out we had to redo it, and enter it back on ballot with correct terminology.”

With the previous vote going their way, Bryan says they have high hopes for this year’s vote.

“It passed two years ago with a majority vote, and we have some very supportive neighbors and others hoping this will pass.”

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