Council approves liquor license for Mexican restaurant

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

The Luverne City Council approved a restaurant retail liquor license for Manarcas Mexican Store, Inc. on Monday night.

The new restaurant will be located at 1244 S. Forest Avenue, across from the BP convenience store where Hometown Medical Equipment is currently located.

Martin Esquivel, owner, operates two similar Mexican restaurants in Troy, La Parota Grill and Manarcas, both on US Highway 231. Speaking before the council during Monday's public hearing, Esquivel said he just wanted the opportunity to bring quality Mexican food to Luverne.

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"We sell about 80 to 85 percent food and 15 percent alcohol," said Esquivel. "Alcohol is a very small part of our business."

Councilman Jimmy Lester said he didn't have a problem with Esquivel's request.

"There are plenty of people who travel to Troy to eat at Mr. Esquivel's restaurants," he said. "I just think in that type of setting the drinking is not going to be a problem."

Keith Davis, pastor at Fountain of Life Worship Center, said as both a concerned citizen and minister he would be opposed to the on-premise sale of alcohol.

"I just feel we're opening a Pandora's Box," he said.

Johnny Jones, pastor of First Free Will Baptist, said he had no opposition to the restaurant itself.

"I don't like Mexican food myself, but I have a son who loves it," said Jones. "But I wouldn't want him going in there where alcohol is sold. I think he (Esquivel) has a chance to do something great and that's open a Mexican restaurant and leave the alcohol off. I think it would be a success without it."

But Esquivel said he faced somewhat of a similar situation at his Manarcas restaurant in Troy when he was forced to wait three months for liquor license approval.

"We had a lot of complaints," he said. "People like to have a beer with spicy food. The majority may have just one or two beers with an entire meal. I don't think it hurts anyone."

Tom and Debbie Ray, owners of Hometown Medical Equipment, will re-locate their business elsewhere in Luverne. Debbie Ray said a new Mexican-themed restaurant would be a great addition to highly traveled U.S. Highway 331.

"It's good for us because Luverne is growing," she said. "I don't think the alcohol will be a problem because no one will be able to leave with it."

Tom Ray said he had eaten at both of Esquivel's restaurants in Troy.

"If that's the kind of restaurant we're getting then I'm all for it," he said.