Firehouse Pizza could lose liquor license

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

Firehouse Pizza of Elko New Market missed a Monday, March 23, deadline to pay back taxes and unpaid utility bills totaling more than $46,000. As a result, the business, owned by Elko New Market City Council member Bob Hanna, faces possible revocation of its liquor license.

On Tuesday, March 24, City Administrator Tom Terry said city staff checked with Scott County to see if the bills had been paid. They hadn't.

The Elko New Market City Council agreed at its Thursday, March 12, meeting that the restaurant could keep its liquor license pending payment of those bills by March 23. Since the bills were not paid, the council can proceed to hold a public hearing to consider revoking Firehouse Pizza's liquor license.

The earliest the council can hold a hearing on the license is Thursday, April 23.

This will be the second public hearing for the license. The council held a public hearing at its March 12 meeting. At that hearing council members Hanna and Denise Schneider excused themselves from the council. Hanna is the owner of the restaurant and Schneider is one of its 42 employees.

Hanna explained he was working on getting a small business loan that would allow him to pay the bills, but the processing of the loan was taking longer than he had anticipated.

Patty Wagner, a neighbor to Firehouse Pizza, felt the council was giving Hanna special treatment. She asked if the council was giving the other liquor establishments the same treatment.

Council member Dennis Melgaard responded he didn't think Hanna was receiving special treatment.

Mayor Jason Ponsonby explained the only thing they were considering was the liquor license. They couldn't compare the other establishments since they weren't in the same situation.

Residents Rick Stidger and Todd Bergstrom spoke in favor of Hanna. They noted how his business employs 42 people and brings funds into the city.

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