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Dear Editor,

After much thought and debate I have made the decision at this time not to open Wagner Grill House in Water Valley.

With this letter, I will try to give you a better understanding of why I had to make this decision.  I envisioned our restaurant project to be very adventurous by taking a very old building and revamping with all of today’s modern equipment.   Plans were drawn up, construction crews were on site, equipment purchases were in place and food vendors were lined up. We had also started the process to apply for a liquor license with the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Commission). 

Then it was time to go before the Mayor and Board of Alderman. The current beer ordinance makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to operate a restaurant with a bar. Even though the law was not being enforced at this time, it could be in the future.  I felt that it was in our best interest to request a change to the beer law at the October Board of Alderman meeting.  

At the meeting I asked, “If you are not going to enforce it then why have it?”  The board was debating among themselves and during the debate Mr. Gray stated that he wanted the law there in case he decided to enforce it.  This has been one of our main concerns from day one, “select enforcement.”

A motion was made by Alderman Kagan Coughlin for a committee to be appointed to study the current ordinance, it’s effects and consequences, and report back at the November board meeting.  The panel came back at the November meeting and recommended to remove the portion of the beer law that was in question. 

Our restaurant was going to serve beer and alcohol and meals. Our restaurant was going to have a space for special events, whether it be a church gathering, class reunion or a sorority event.  Our restaurant was also going to include a country store with candy, chips and ice cream.  Our intentions were to make it a place where members of the Water Valley community and their guests could come without having to drive out of town and spend their money.  We were hoping to boost the economy, to take an old dilapidated building and bring it to life, and  to do something for my hometown that would make members of the community proud. 

After the November meeting, when the recommendation from the committee was not adopted by the Board of Aldermen, I consulted with my attorneys about my options going forward. They recommended that this adventure be abandoned immediately. I believe that this would have been a successful restaurant and would have brought many people to Water Valley to see the special town it really is.

A special thank-you to Alderman Kagan Coughlin for trying to work this matter out by making the motion to change the beer ordinance. We got an answer, even though it definitely was not what we wanted.  We will always be grateful for your efforts.

The building is available for rent and the contact number is posted on the wall of the building.

We have already acquired a space in Oxford and hope to start serving Chef Kevin Morris’ wonderful food as early as February.


Terry Warren

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