Small hotels say their businesses are at stake as state reviews liquor licenses

Arden Rankins, owner of the Sunrise Inn in Cooper Landing, says her business would be forced...
Arden Rankins, owner of the Sunrise Inn in Cooper Landing, says her business would be forced to shut down if it loses its tourism liquor license. The inn has too few rooms for a tourism license under state law, but Rankins said that requirement did not stop the state from awarding the license in the first place or renewing it in subsequent years. (KTUU)
Published: Nov. 14, 2017 at 11:32 AM AKST
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The owners of several small hotels and bars that hold liquor licenses intended to cater to tourists say their businesses are at stake pending an ongoing state review.

Researchers for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board found that at least 34 Alaska businesses that have been awarded tourism liquor licenses have too few rooms for rent under state law.

Director Erika McConnell told board members Monday that more research is needed to determine if the businesses were in compliance with the law when they received the license and fell out of compliance as populations grew in surrounding communities.

Arden Rankins, owner of the Sunrise Inn in Cooper Landing, said that if she is required to build dozens of additional rooms or lose her liquor license, her business will be forced to shut down.

"Cooper landing has had the Sunrise Inn since 1958," Rankins said. "And if the liquor license goes away, the Sunrise goes away, financially."

The regulatory board plans to take up the issue again in January. No formal proposal has been made to take away licenses for out-of-compliance hotels or to "grandfather " them in. For now, the research into the issue continues.

Several current tourism license holders suggested that their existing licenses be changed to more traditional -- and sell-able -- liquor licenses.

KTUU highlighted the issue of tourism liquor licenses in a recent report that focused on the Black Angus Inn, an Anchorage hotel that


have enough rooms under state law but does not appear to cater to tourists despite owners' claims to the city and state on alcohol license applications.

That separate issue, whether hotels that hold the license actually use it to serve tourists or increase tourism in Alaska, was not addressed by the regulatory board on Monday.