The Dunes pavilion refurbishment and banquet hall plan has advanced all summer with seemingly little hindrance, despite some local and vocal opposition. But the project has hit its first major snag: alcohol sales.

As it currently stands, alcohol is not allowed on any of the Dunes’ beaches. Alcohol sales are permitted by law inside and within 100 feet of the pavilion, provided the operators have a liquor license. And on September 10, Pavilion Partners LLC, who is overseeing the project, had their application rejected by the Porter County Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

If that doesn’t sound like much of a snag, you don’t know a whole lot about the restaurant business. Aside from fast food operations, liquor comprises a large part of sales for eateries of all stripes. And in fine dining, which is what the new banquet seems to be aiming for, drinks are not only a big chunk of change, but arguably a bigger part of the experience than the meal. Even though the hall would offer the beautiful view of the Dunes, it would still be at a big disadvantage if its cocktail hours were limited to Shirley Temples.

The opposition to granting the hall a liquor license seems to stem from the fears that it will eventually lead to allowing alcohol on the beach. Well, my opinion on the banquet hall (which I’ve already talked about this summer) boils down to this: if the hall is the only extent to which private parties can be reserved, I’m okay with it. If the liquor stays there, too, that’s fine with me.

But, though I hate to be a buzzkill, I agree that the beaches should remain alcohol-free. Aside from the potential for more garbage and the dangers of impairing swimmers or hikers on the trails, I frankly and selfishly would rather not have the peacefulness of the Dunes spoiled by that loud drunk we’ve all had to tolerate at a bar or sporting event at some point. Even though by and large most people who might take some drinks to the beach aren’t that person, it’s not worth risking.


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