Harper’s Grill Obtains Liquor License Approval from Ford City Council

Jake Armstrong, owner of Harper’s Grill in Ford City, shows Ford City Borough Councilwoman Beth Bowser the layout of his restaurant on architectural drawings. Council approved the transfer of a liquor license to his establishment.

A public hearing was held Monday night at the conclusion of the regular public meeting of Ford City Borough Council.

The topic was an inter-municipal transfer of a liquor license from Spring Church Ranch House in Kiski Township to Justanickel Corporation – the parent company of Harper’s Grill in Ford City borough.

The Kiski Township restaurant is no longer in operation. Harper’s Grill owners Jake and Justine Armstrong were represented at the hearing by local attorney Andrew Cypher.  Ford City’s Solicitor Alyssa Golfieri conducted the hearing on behalf of Ford City Borough. According to Liquor Control Board regulations, a municipality must agree to having a Liquor License transferred into its community.

Golfieri said that the main issue to be decided by Ford City Council was if the transfer would impact the health, welfare or morals of its residents. Cypher stated reasons why the Armstrongs felt there would be no negative impact.

Local attorney Andrew Cypher tells Ford City Council why they should approve the transfer of a Liquor License for Harper’s Grill.

“Jake is an experienced business owner. He already owns a successful business at this location. He knows the details of the business and will not need to lean on the revenue strategy explicitly from the sale of alcohol. He has been told by customers that they would like to be able to purchase beverages in the establishment. He would also like to capture that additional income provided to his business. He is retaining the restaurant character. The patrons will not be sitting at a bar. They will have a small bar for staff members to make drinks, but nothing like you would see in other establishments. The transfer is to allow the patrons to have a glass of beer or wine and not to order from a laundry list of alcoholic drinks. Jake’s establishment is for families. He and his wife are from the area. They do not want to ruin their reputation with a nuisance establishment. They have pursued a family atmosphere at Harper’s and they want to keep it that way.”

Cypher said that Armstrong already has a “Bring Your Own Bottle” policy with the appropriate insurance.

“Specifically, patrons can purchase beverage from the nearby Spigot Brewery and carry it into Jake’s establishment to have with their meal.”

Cypher said that Armstrong will provide strict supervision of staff members, all of them with the exception of one, that is over the age of 18.

“They will have all the training that they need and will not dispense any alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated.”

Cypher said that Harper’s Grill will continue to maintain its current hours of operation, which closes at 9PM Monday through Thursday and 10PM on Friday and Saturday.

“Mr. Armstrong has maintained excellent relations with the community through good customer service as well as his support of local charities. He will strive to maintain these going forward.”

Council President Carol Fenyes said she had concerns about extended hours of operation and was glad to hear that wasn’t being considered.

Although wine and beer are currently being planned, Armstrong said the possibility exists of enlarging the offerings to other liquor in the future.

“We plan on having five drafts, five mixed drinks, and rotating them monthly,” Armstrong said. “So liquor is an option.”

Armstrong said the sale of six-packs is also an option, but wants to study how it could be laid out to accommodate the inventory.

Harper’s Grill has been in business for the past 17 months, and Armstrong believes the addition of alcohol will add to its offerings.

Fenyes asked for a motion to approve the resolution to permit the transfer of the Liquor License. Motion was made by Tyson Klukan; seconded by Ray Klukan. Motion passed.

Armstrong did not state when he expected to begin liquor sales.

Harper’s Grill owner Jake Armstrong answers questions from Ford City Borough Council about how a liquor license would impact his business and customers.