Divided Vote Decides County’s Liquor Sale

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve an agreement for the sale of one liquor store’s inventory to an Ocean City businessman.

On Tuesday, the commissioners approved the asset purchase agreement that will allow Mike Ramadan’s GCBW Inc. to buy the inventory of the Gold Coast Mall liquor store at a cost of $300,000. Ramadan, who owns the beer and wine store adjacent to the county’s liquor store, plans to expand and begin selling liquor.

“The agreement that was approved and signed is contingent upon several items, one of which is the board of license commissioners’ approval of a Class A beer, wine and liquor seven day license,” said Mark Cropper, Ramadan’s attorney.

Ramadan’s offer to purchase the inventory came as the county was in the midst of its efforts to get out of the liquor business. In 2015, Worcester County leaders agreed to begin liquidating the Worcester County Department of Liquor Control. While efforts are being made to lease out some of the county’s liquor stores, that wasn’t an option for the Gold Coast Mall facility, as its lease expires Dec. 31.

Ramadan offered to purchase the inventory of the Gold Coast Mall store plus a 10-percent markup. Because he had no interest in the store’s assets (furniture, fixtures, etc.), he agreed to spend $300,000 on inventory in spite of the fact that there’s only $152,457-worth of it in the store now. As part of the sale agreement, however, Ramadan wanted a letter of support from the county to provide to the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC).

While Commissioner Joe Mitrecic has been an opponent of Ramadan’s proposal from the start, citing the fact that others might have been interested in the store’s inventory, six commissioners voted to support Ramadan’s proposal earlier this month. When the actual purchase agreement came up for approval this week, however, it passed with just a 4-3 vote. Mitrecic was joined in his opposition to the sale by commissioners Bud Church and Merrill Lockfaw.

“I think Joe Mitrecic and Bud Church and myself were in agreement that there were some things in the contract agreement we didn’t feel were secure enough for the county,” Lockfaw said. He declined to say what specifically made them uncomfortable with the document.

The agreement approved outlines the sale and obligations of the parties involved. The agreement is contingent on the BLC’s granting of the Class A liquor license to Ramadan and the BLC’s approval of his plans to modify the premises and combine the two mall units. The $50,000 deposit the contract required from Ramadan is refundable if the BLC fails to issues the necessary liquor license. Ramadan will pay the remaining $250,000 balance on the closing date, which has been set as Jan. 5.

Cropper says his client hopes to begin renovations at the store immediately after that.

“There’s no reason to believe this transaction won’t proceed as anticipated,” Cropper said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.