ABC erred in revoking license of Lexington coffee shop that defied COVID rules

ABC erred in revoking license of Lexington coffee shop that defied COVID rules

ABC erred in revoking license of Lexington coffee shop that defied COVID rules

A Lexington coffee shop owner who defied many local and state COVID-19 restrictions could regain his alcohol license after a Fayette Circuit judge sided with him over the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and its board Tuesday.

Andrew Cooperrider, who ran the coffee and beer shop Brewed on Malabu Drive, can now hold a hearing with the ABC board to regain his license to sell alcohol. The shop had closed Spring 2023 and has yet to reopen.

Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Travis ruled that the ABC board was within its rights to suspend Brewed’s license initially, but went too far when it permanently revoked the license for failing to comply with Beshear’s executive order requiring masks and restaurants to shut down for in-person dining.

Travis’ ruling reversed the ABC board’s order revoking Brewed’s license, though the agency said it will appeal.

Cooperrider made regular headlines during the pandemic when he refused to stop serving indoors; Brewed was ordered closed in November 2020 by local authorities due to those actions.

He also tried to impeach Gov. Andy Beshear and initiated his suit against Beshear over the loss of his liquor license.

In 2022, Cooperrider ran for state senate against Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, falling short in the GOP primary by about 12 percentage points. The following year, he finished second in a three-man race in Republican primary for state treasurer, garnering 29% of the vote to Treasurer Mark Metcalf’s 51%. In both races, Cooperrider was heavily outspent.

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Travis, who previously sided with local authorities in their dispute against Cooperrider during the height of the pandemic, wrote that changes enacted by the state legislature in 2021’s House Bill 1 should have led to a different outcome. The bill limited a governor’s authority to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

“In summary, this Court concludes that the Department of ABC was acting within its legal authority when it initially suspended Brewed’s licenses on an emergency basis,” Travis wrote in his order.

“However, in its continuing proceedings against Brewed wherein it also permanently revoked its licenses on an alleged violation of this type, it exceeded its authority by applying standards above the ‘least restrictive’ available. The ABC Board should have applied HB 1.”

Agency spokeswoman Kristin Voskuhl said ABC is preparing to appeal Travis’ order.

“During the once in a century pandemic that claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 Kentuckians, the administration took every action necessary to save as many lives as possible. We all had to work together, and the vast majority of businesses did their part,” Voskuhl wrote.

“We disagree with the ruling and are preparing to take next steps, including an appeal.”

Cooperrider took to social media to celebrate the order.

“While their withholding of my license caused Brewed to be unable to open at a new location after our lease expired, the ruling represents a huge positive step forward to remedying this situation and sends a clear message that Beshear must follow state law no matter how much he hates someone,” Cooperrider wrote on X.

Brewed is still not operating, though Cooperrider says he has a physical space nearly ready to open in an office building behind the Nicholasville Road Trader Joe’s. He said that his company secured the location, but hasn’t opened because ABC has told him they wouldn’t issue him a new license to sell alcohol.

Pictured above is the new Brewed location, which has yet to open.Pictured above is the new Brewed location, which has yet to open.

Pictured above is the new Brewed location, which has yet to open.

“We would like to reopen something with an alcohol license,” Cooperrider told the Herald-Leader. “We have the setup for a coffee shop, but there’s been discussion of moving to the bar side of things as well. The entire idea behind the concept to begin with was ‘coffee in the morning, bar at night.’”

The former Brewed location on Malabu Drive is now home to Tuk Tuk Snack Shop, an establishment that marries Sri Lankan techniques and ingredients with classic Southern dishes.