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Liquor License Applicants Discuss Experience, Business Plans

The three applicants for the City of Dacula liquor license presented their qualifications to council during a Jan. 30 called work session.

Though Dacula residents will have to wait one more day to learn who will be granted the license to operate the city’s first package store, they had the opportunity Wednesday night to learn more about the applicants.

The three applicants -- WeaverDCB, LLC (Heather Weaver), Beverage Warehouse of Dacula LLC (Mike Korom) and Jay Shree Jala, LLC (Peter/Hetel Thakkar) -- were given 15 minutes each to give a presentation to the Dacula City Council explaining why he or she should be selected as the licensee.

The presentations, along with the application packets, will be scored by the council members. The council will meet Thursday evening at 6 p.m. to decide which of the applicants will be awarded the license. 

Mike Korom

Self-employed equipment distributor and former county commission candidate Mike Korom openly admitted that he has no prior experience in the liquor business.

“But what I can tell you is that I’ve been in the business of dealing with people -- selling, ordering product, paying bills,” Korom said.

Korom, whose background includes work as a sales manager and market development manager, plans to keep running his current business, but will be heavily involved in the operation of the package store should he be chosen as the licensee.

“I’ll have to give up my golf game,” he said in response to a question from Councilwoman Sue Robinson regarding whether or not he had time to devote to a second business.

Korom plans to hire another person to manage the store, which would be located at 2590 Winder Highway. That person also has no experience in the liquor business, but has worked with Korom in previous ventures.

After Korom’s presentation, the council members were given the opportunity to ask questions, the most pointed of which came from Councilman Hubert Wells.

“Did you contribute in any way to further the drive for the package store referendum or, after the referendum passed, did you in any way campaign for the passage of the 'yes' vote for the sale of package distilled spirits to be consumed off premises?” Wells asked.

“I’m a little confused by the question,” Korom replied.

“Did you do anything to help get the referendum passed or the vote passed?” Wells reiterated.

“I guess … I think we both know the answer to that,” Korom responded. “I’m trying to understand what, with that question, what the intent is.”

Korom explained that he was not involved in the petition drive or campaigning for the referendum and that it was his understanding that participation in the petition drive would have no impact on who was chosen as the licensee.

“I’m trying to understand the pertinency [sic] of the question,” Korom said. (See the video for the rest of the exchange between Korom and Wells.)

 

Peter Thakkar

Peter Thakkar, owner of the Dacula Exxon, has 20 years of experience in the convenience store business, including experience in beer and wine sales.

Thakkar said he was the first person to obtain an alcohol license in the City of Dacula and was the first person to sell alcohol in the town.

“I have confidence I can run the liquor store operation very successfully,” he said.

Thakkar added that he will be involved in the day-to-day operation of the store and believes his proposed location, at 3275 Old Peachtree Road, is the best of the three locations in terms of access and convenience.

When asked by Councilwoman Sue Robinson if he intended to keep running his three existing businesses, Thakkar said he would likely sell one of them if he were chosen as the licensee in order to devote more time to growing the new business.

“I enjoy the business,” Thakkar said. “I’m not doing it for the money … you enjoy the money, but we enjoy the business -- especially retail business. That is what I’ve done all my life.”

To Councilman Wells’ question regarding whether or not he contributed to getting the referendum passed, Thakkar simply replied, “No sir.” 

 

Heather Weaver

Heather Weaver and her husband Russ are co-owners of The Bottle Shop, a package store in Madison, Ga.

The Weavers opened their store in 2006 and, according to information presented to council, the business has experienced double-digit percentage growth each year in a depressed economy, increasing both revenue and profit.

“We bring with us specific industry experience that we can apply to make our business successful,” Weaver said.

If chosen as the licensee, the Weavers plan to build their store near the corner of Old Peachtree Road and Hurricane Shoals. According to the Weavers, that location would be furthest from the heart of downtown Dacula and Dacula schools and is the best location for attracting business from the Hamilton Mill, Apalachee Farms and the Mill Creek area.

Russ Weaver, who has 10 years of experience in package store retail sales and management, would manage the store.

“We have an unblemished record,” Russ Weaver said. In addition to outlining their previous experience in the liquor business, Russ Weaver presented council with financial statements which he said demonstrated their ability to “build, stock and run Dacula Cork and Bottle for years to come.”

The Weavers plan to move to Dacula if chosen as the licensee and are the individuals behind the successful petition drive that brought the package store referendum before the voters in November.

If selected as the licensee, the Weavers said their store would open its doors in October.

 

You might also be interested in reading:

  • Three Submit Applications to Become Dacula's First Liquor Store Licensee
  • Petitioner Obtains Enough Signatures for Package Store Referendum
  • Petitioner: Dacula Package Store Would Be ‘Finest Store in Georgia’
  • Dacula Election Results 2012: Package Store Referendum Passes
  • If You Build It They Will Come ... and Buy Liquor!

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Tim Irons January 31, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Peter Thakkar all the way. Great guy, and runs a good business. He is Dacula, and stepping into his store you will see the hospitality that you receive. Keep it Dacula!
Michelle Couch January 31, 2013 at 01:55 AM
I wasn't aware that the Weavers lead the petition drive. That was a vital detail missing; but one that I feel is of significant importance.
Julie McGinnis January 31, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Experience in the business and a first class store are of great importance to Dacula and its, standards. It seems to me the Weavers are the ones to provide just what is needed here, JCM
Julie McGinnis January 31, 2013 at 02:41 AM
8am in total agreement
Steve Rider January 31, 2013 at 02:56 AM
I don't think experience in the liquor business is necessary,....it's liquor. It sells itself. But customer service is definitely a plus. I think it should go to the people that put in the hard work to get the referendum passed, not just someone hoping to make a dollar from it.
Patrick Agnew January 31, 2013 at 03:06 AM
I like the idea of the Weaver's having experience and a proven "track record". Operating a liquor store is very different from running a Convenience store. I shop at the Exon, and I have met Peter. He is a very nice man and runs a very nice store, but that does not make him qualified to run a package store. I also like the thought process that has gone into the Weaver's location choice. It is an area that has been zoned commercial, yet sat idle for some time since the bank took the property over at the beginning of the financial melt down. I think it would drive economic "commercial' growth in that area without impacting the residential feel of the area. I live in Nichols Landing, less than a mile away.
Cynthia Montgomery January 31, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Why was the question placed to the 3 persons whom were applying for the store about, "Were you involved in the November referendum?" Was he saying were you behind it or was he saying, you had nothing to do with the beginning of this battle so why are you here now? I can not tell from the video which was Wells reasoning for asking the question? Was he saying that Korman and Thakkar should not be riding the coat tails of the Weavers or what? DId Wells vote for the Weavers? Did you have to be a part of the referendum to be able to put in a bid to bring a store to Dacula? Educate us Kristi, please.
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Cynthia - It would not be appropriate for me to respond on Councilman Wells behalf, but I can tell you the petition drive required a lot of work. I think if you watch the video again, you'll probably see the point he was making. And no, you didn't have to be part of the petition drive to put in an applicant packet. In answer to your other question, the vote isn't until tonight.
Mike Korom January 31, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Cynthia, My point in questioning the reason for Councilman Wells' of whether I worked on the referendum was simple. The Mayor has stated clearly that work on the referendum would have no bearing on the outcome of the applicant recieving the license. So therefore his question was not pertinent and it begs the question as to why he (Wells) asked the question in the first place. Two supporting points... One, if it was relevant it would have been on their score sheet. It wasn't. Two, if it was relevant no one but he Weavers would have applied for the license.
Cynthia Montgomery January 31, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Thank you Mike and Kristi, Mike I too thought the petition drive was not to be an issue and was not to hold any weight in the decision making effort. SO why did he ask. Those on the bench knew who did the leg work. Those on the bench , also knew show appeared before the council to begin with so why the question. I as a tax paying member of the city would also like to know the intent of the question. Did the party, that began the petition, mention in their presentation that they began the petition? On another issue Mike how much does it cost to rent your Applachee Club House?
Cynthia Montgomery January 31, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Kristi, Do you have Korman's presentation speech? I see the other two posted but I do not see Korman's. I only see the answer to Well's questioning. Am I missing it?
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 31, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Cynthia - I only have a few clips. A few of the clips I tried to take were unfortunately ruined when the applicants began moving about during their presentations. Mr. Korom spent a good portion of his presentation discussing his personal and professional background -- I know you are familiar with that from the candidate forum. What exactly did you want to know?
Don Campo January 31, 2013 at 02:44 PM
I thought the question from Councilman Well’s was inappropriate. To my understanding Councilman Well’s wife and son worked for the Weavers getting the signatures for the petition. Councilman Well’s should abstain from the vote and discussions if he or his family was involved with any of the applicants.
Michelle Couch January 31, 2013 at 02:44 PM
The petition drive to obtain the required number of signatures for the referendum is a HUGE undertaking and upfront investment with no guarantee of the "only" license. It took Grayson's petition team 4-5 months to obtain the signatures.That was 5+ teams of two knocking on doors Mon through Thur and Sat;weather permitting. Hours upon hours of knocking, data entry, tracking, re-knocking and re-knocking. Once the petition phase is successful; phase 2 which is a "Vote Yes" campaign to get the voters to the polls. It worked cause Dacula's passed by about 2.3 votes to 1 if I recall correctly. The Weavers may be from another close-by community, but they saw the vision, they made the investment, did the work and Dacula will greatly prosper from the tax revenues. Package stores are one of the highest tax producing businesses! Had I known earlier that the Weavers were the force behind the petition drive, my opinion of who should receive this license would have been concluded much sooner. While I do appreciate the grassroots desire of keeping the ownership local - it seems that if the Weavers are awarded the license, they have pledged to move to the Dacula area; Hence, they too will be members of the community. The vision, upfront investment, petition force, proven successful industry experience, well-planned land use, reputable land design firm, and a few more positives; it's an outstanding application.
Kristi Reed (Editor) January 31, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Also Cynthia - Each of the candidates were given 15 minutes to make a presentation. As you can see, I only have a minute or two from each. The meeting was open to the public and a good number of people came to hear the full presentations. This article, as with practically all news articles, is a summary of the proceedings. It is not a complete transcript of everything that was said.
Michelle Couch January 31, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Just wondering - do you feel that a council member should abstain if their spouse/children/family members signed the petition? I don't feel that it is a conflict for a council member's family to work toward a cause that they feel is beneficial for their city. This type of family involvement and support is often how small cities realize many of their greatest accomplishments. If the council member's spouse was the applicant - that would certainly change the matter. But if as you claim is fact, I really don't see an issue with it. It is my understanding as well that the petition drive is a separate process - and is to have no "official" impact on the license decision making. (although I can't really confess to understanding this legality or agreeing with it; it is what it is) I will say that during our presentation in Grayson last year, we did include the fact that my client was the force behind the petition drive.
Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Do the Weavers own the Cork and Bottle in Athens?
Michelle Couch January 31, 2013 at 05:11 PM
The Bottle Shop in Madison.
Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Thank you, Michelle, I just thought it was interesting that there is a Cork and Bottle in Athens, and name they are planning to use, if approved, is Dacula Cork and Botlle.
Residents against Dacula Corruption January 31, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Dear Ms. Weaver, The location you believe is prefect happens to have to elementary schools with in a 2 to 1 minute drive from Hurricane Shoals & Peachtree not mention the beautiful park that has been open on Hurricane Shoals with in a stones throw of there & how about the 2 subdivisions that you will be intruding upon ? Aside from the fact that Dacula already has enough empty retail space in it, that intersection should not be another retail sore eye!
Ricky Hunter January 31, 2013 at 10:17 PM
If the council decides to give the licence to the couple who wants to put the store up on the corner of old peachtree and hurricane shoels, let them be the first ones in line picking up the bottles up and dow n the side of the road......put the first one on hay 29, then go from there.... Ricky & Steph Hunter
Larry Herring February 01, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Seems to me that being paid a reported $7/signature is in fact a conflict of interest when your husband/father is a councilman voting in the matter AND even motions for the vote! I haven't seen the applications but the Winder Highway location sure seemed like the logical choice instead of an area surrounded by residences! What were they thinking? Oh yeah, he's my buddy and my family got a nice bonus out of it. What's the number to the State Ethics Commission again, Mr. Wilbanks? Wait until the Apalachee Woods community finds out what just happened.
Cynthia Montgomery February 01, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Larry & Don, How did you get the information about $7 per signature to get the issue before the council. If, in fact, Ms Wells (wife of Councilman Wells) & her children did indeed work to get the the names, it makes much more sense as to why Wells brought up the topic. If the Weavers were paying $7 per signature to get it before the council, & then later two other qualified persons came along, and it looked like my work was to be for not, someone might want to bring up the fact that the 2 others were dropping in at the end. Was Mike or Peter aware that the Wells family was working for the Weavers? It may not be against the law but, I agree that Wells should have removed himself from the vote if INDEED HIS FAMILY MEMBERS PROFITED FROM H. WELLS VOTE IN ANY WAY. Many have removed themselves from a vote for lessor reasons. So yes, Michelle I do believe Wells should have removed himself from the vote. IF, and that is a BIG IF, his wife was working for the Weavers. The Weavers should have made that information evident to the council & our citizens. I have always watched the voting and it seems to be level headed & thoughtful so, why did some vote against the Weavers? Could it be that in our little Dacula money changed hands for a vote? Well, we did see a county lady go to jail for vote buying but, here in little old Dacula! Who said his family was paid $7 per signature or vote? A good citizen that should not plaster false info about our leaders! Back it up or shut it up!
Frank February 02, 2013 at 01:53 AM
3 to 1 was the vote -- what do you want to do to the other 2 brun them???
Elizabeth February 02, 2013 at 02:21 AM
RDC, are you a group? Do you have a website where we can get more information? I am sincerely interested, not a detractor.
Cynthia Montgomery February 02, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Frank, your comment is deflecting the attention from the the question at hand. A leader in our community was accused of having his votes up for payment. Do you want the truth? What are you saying about the other two votes? Our leaders make decisions each month. This is the first time I have seen anyone question the moral decision making of one of our council members. Two different people are claiming the same amount for an action taken. I am asking from whom they got their information? Our council members should have OUR interest as their first thought, not the improvement of their family's bank accounts. Where did the 7$ amount come from? If you cast a dark shadow on someone's actions then be man enough to bring your information to the table & don't "hit and run" with half truths or full lies. Council member Wells deserves the truth to be told since his family has been brought into this. So either speak up or shut up. Did his family receive payment from the Weavers or not? To accuse someone of misconduct without any proof, is not worthy of our community. If it is the truth, why did the Weavers choose the Wells over another citizen. The Weavers had to have known Wells was a city council member. So before this goes any further, Larry & Don, where did you get your information about the pay? Are the Weavers available to ask for their facts on the story. The Weavers have the right to pay whomever they choose. If they indeed did paid, I question why the Wells family?
Michelle Couch February 02, 2013 at 02:29 PM
I was on the same page as Frank. If Wells abstained, you still have a 2 to 1 vote with the same outcome. Only one vote in opposition to the Weavers application. The package store and location will not be the evil end all of Dacula. It will not increase litter; nor attract masses of undesirables. I strongly doubt you will see people walking out of the store, swigging down their open bottle concealed in a paper bag and then when they reach the corner they toss it on to the side of the road. A tastefully constructed, well-managed package store in Dacula does not an inner city corner in the "hood" make. The package store in my city does not present these problems; there is no disruption of worship at the church right next door or across the street. There is no danger or harm caused to the elementary school or daycare two blocks away. There are no drunks walking the streets and tossing their bottles on the road. I do not wish to discount someone's concerns about what is happening in their community. However, there is ABSOLUTELY no need to create and breed such unrealistic fear about this matter. I grew up in an absolutely beautiful and charming city near Charleston, SC. There are package stores on every other corner (which are state owned). There is no greater abundance of crime or danger to the community than there is in Dacula on this day - prior to a package store. If you do not approve of the package store - don't shop there! That choice is yours.
M.K. OSBORNE February 02, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Now we can move on to strip clubs and escort services in order to get everyone's vice included for the sake of fairness . Member EOO .... Equal Opportunity Offender.

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