Travis Riddle believes his decision to run for Brunswick mayor may have cost him a license to sell beer and wine at his restaurant.
Riddle, owner of Country Boy Cooking on Norwich Street in Brunswick, was denied the license because his business does not meet the distance requirements from a church across the street. It was the second time in eight months that Riddle was denied an alcohol license request he claims is vital to the survival of his business.
“I think if I wouldn’t have run for mayor, I would have had the vote,” he said. “It’s a good old boy system.”
Riddle said city commissioners made decisions about his request for a license based on personal friendships instead of finding ways to help a small business owner succeed.
A public hearing about the license in January drew many comments in support and against granting a license. Supporters said Riddle has shown a commitment to helping area youth and running a business responsibly.
Opponents, mostly from Hall Temple Church of God across the street, said a business selling alcohol does not belong next door, and the city ordinance prohibits it.
The restaurant is 157 feet from the church. A city ordinance requires a business that serves beer and wine to be at least 600 feet from a church, school or residence unless the city approves an exemption.
Riddle said he would have never opened the restaurant without assurances from Mayor Cornell Harvey that an exemption for the distance requirement could be made with consent from the church.
He questioned why city officials delayed their vote to deny two weeks if they never intended on approving his license request.
Riddle offered to voluntarily halt alcohol sales any time the church held a service of any type as a condition for a license.
“I’m not getting a fair shot,” he said. “How could I hurt that church right now?”
Harvey said he never guaranteed Riddle would get an exemption from the distance requirement for a license.
“I told him there is discretion of the city commission,” he said. “I told him about the process.”
Harvey said the decision to deny the license had nothing to do with Riddle’s candidacy or any attempt to force him to drop out of the mayor’s race.
Harvey cannot seek another term in office because of term limits.
“Travis Riddle is not a threat,” Harvey said. “Why would anyone want him out of the race?”