After 16 years of availability, Logansport’s first Riverfront District liquor license has been issued.
The People’s Winery owner Stacie Angle received it at the beginning of the month for the new event space on the second floor of the building at 414 S. Third St.
The Riverfront District liquor licenses are what’s known as three-way or full-service licenses, meaning that the holder can serve all three types of alcoholic beverages: beer, wine and hard liquor.
The license is for the second floor only, where Angle and her husband Brad have already begun hosting events since August.
The first floor will remain the wine bar it’s always been for about 11 years and remain their main focus, she said. They also won’t keep a full bar in the upstairs.
The venue will always have wine and beers, with one craft beer — Blood Orange from Centerpoint Brewing in the Indianapolis area.
However, they intend for the new license to be used at events where someone wants a particular liquor, such as a wedding where one of the fathers prefers to drink bourbon.
Angle said they’ll also bring in any beers those renting the hall would like for an event.
But the beer and hard liquor must stay up on the second floor because of the difference in licenses, she added.
The Riverfront District is an expansion of the number of liquor licenses an area can have. Usually, the number of liquor licenses the state allows is based on population: one per every 1,500 people in the municipality or county, according to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
In larger areas like Indianapolis, local governments will auction off the licenses to raise money, said Bill Cuppy, executive director of the Cass Logansport Economic Development Organization and Logansport/Cass County Chamber of Commerce.
However, in Logansport, people usually get a three-way license when another place closes and the license owner sells it.
With the Riverfront District licenses, restaurants can get a three-way license at the normal cost, and there’s no limit on the number of licenses, Deputy Mayor Jacob Pomasl said.
Cuppy and Pomasl said that they believe all of Logansport’s three-way licenses based on population have been spoken for.
Mayor Chris Martin’s administration discovered the Riverfront District earlier this year, although the ordinance for it was passed in 2005 to take advantage of a change in Indiana law.
The state created the law designating riverfront districts in 2004, an alteration of a 1985 law that allowed for historic vessels on municipal waterfronts to get three-way licenses not connected to population.
Originally that law was broadened in 1989 to include land-based restaurants but was altered to define those restaurants as within 1,500 feet of a river, according to a July 2004 letter from the alcohol and tobacco commission to state legislature’s administrative rules oversight committee chair.
In Logansport, the district starts around Eighth Street (a little further east toward the southern end) and extends west to where the Wabash and Eel Rivers meet.
Although the licenses are limited only by the number available spaces in the district, there are restrictions for what can get a license.
It has to be a full-service restaurant with a menu and a certain amount of tables, said Cass County-Logansport Planning Executive Director Arin Shaver.
The ordinance states that at least 65% of the restaurant’s sales must be something other than liquor, and patrons must be served by staff at a table or counter.
The city ordinance specifically excludes bars, taverns, nightclubs and drive-thru restaurants from being eligible for the licenses.
“It’s a tool to get nicer restaurants,” said Pomasl, who’s in charge of promoting the Riverfront District for Martin’s administration.
Although the ordinance had been almost forgotten after changes of city administrations, Angle said that she and husband Brad had always planned to eventually get a three-way license.
They’d discussed that 11 years ago with then-Mayor Mike Fincher and his deputy mayor, Linda Klinck.
“We knew it was a possibility, but we didn’t want to pursue it yet,” she said.
When they bought the building, they were still defining the business plan and unsure what all they wanted to do.
“We just loved that building and wanted to finish restoring it,” she said.
The Peoples Bank built it in the late 1800s, and Angle said it’s the largest Italianate store front structure in Indiana.
She and her husband bought it off the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation, which invested money into saving the building after it had been used to store appliances and to house the Salvation Army.
Because they got it at such a reasonable price, Angle kept the name for her winery.
“I really appreciate the history of it, and the front of the building always drew me to it,” she said. “As a little girl, I always loved this building.”
The Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation had blocked off the upstairs with a plastic foam door that kept the downstairs heat from traveling to the second floor.
The Angles considered making the upstairs an apartment, but that didn’t seem right for the space, she said.
Recently times had changed where they needed to do something different for the winery.
Almost three years ago, Melbourne Avenue to the south had closed, affecting business.
Then COVID-19 and pandemic restrictions hit just after Brad, who was always the winemaker for People’s Winery, had retired as plant manager for Carter Automobile.
He had time on his hands.
“So you start thinking, ‘What could we do with the building?’” she said.
She believes life is what you make it and you should find your passion, and the winery and event space have become their full-time jobs.
Because they’ll serve food at the upstairs events, they build a new kitchen there. The winery only had counter space for when people brought in food for private events.
She went through a food service program, so she’s certified to serve and handle food. Much of the catering is done by Vibrant Events, owned by Katya Swisher and Israel Harding, and Swisher helped design the upstairs kitchen.
“She’s kind of been our preferred caterer because we like her and she’s good,” Angle said. “We try to do as much local as we can.”
Swisher also gave input into what the kitchen should include.
The first event was for Dilling Group for its apprenticeship awards, and there have been wedding receptions and a mayoral race fundraiser by Martin.
The second floor is already booked for Christmas parties, wedding showers and baby showers.
Stacie said they may also make pizzas and pretzels with cheese for the winery downstairs, but that would be limited.
“I’m not going to turn it into a restaurant,” she said.
Her father ran Ambers, now West Side Diner, and she knows that’s not something she wants to do.
As with The People’s Winery, the three-way licenses are not just for new places but for existing places to grow, Pomasl said.
Cuppy said the city should probably market the Riverfront District licenses better, however, three-way licenses haven’t been a big part of the downtown’s recent growth.
Businesses owners have been more interested one-way or two-way licenses.
Pomasl said, “We’ve seen a big growth in the beer and wine permits in the downtown in the last year.”
And those are easier licenses to get.
Along with The People’s Winery having a wine license, recently Black Dog Coffee added a Hoosier beers and wines bar in the back; Bonus Pints opened and serves craft beers and wines; and Science Project Brewing Company is being constructed at 611 North St.