Five gas stations are applying for licenses to sell package liquor at Friday’s (24 March) liquor licensing board meeting, while four liquor stores are petitioning for variances to allow for Sunday sales.
Businessman Robert Hamaty questions whether this is even legal.
The floodgates are open, three months after the liquor licensing board approved an application to sell beer and wine at this Red Bay convenience store. Five other gas stations are applying for the right to do the same.
“A liquor license does not belong in the gas station,” said Mr. Hamaty.
Mr. Hamaty, Tortuga Rum Company president claimed the board is outside its authority to grant these licenses. He cited a cabinet order dating back to 2002.
“No license to gas stations,” he said, pointing to the documents. “That was 2002.”
He told Cayman 27 the cabinet order resurfaces in gazettes dating from 2004, 2006, and 2010.
“My interpretation is that the cabinet order for the provision of gas stations being licensed still exists,” said Mr. Hamaty.
Acting liquor board chair Woody DaCosta pointed to section 44 of the constitution, which allows cabinet to determine its own procedures as to the conduct of its business, including extinguishing any previous cabinet order.
He told Cayman 27 Mr. Hamaty is only “Endeavoring to protect his empire.”
The Anchors store at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in West Bay, which also sells gas, was approved for its liquor license more than two years ago. That store even has permission to sell booze on Sundays, something more stores are petitioning to do.
“Imagine, you can’t open a supermarket on a Sunday and now gas stations are applying to sell liquor on a Sunday” mused Mr. Hamaty.
He told Cayman 27 if he’s wrong about the cabinet order, he’s willing to move on. He just wants a straight answer about the cabinet order.
“I want to clarification from the chairman, acting chairman, that he has proof that this prohibition has been lifted,” he said.
Cayman 27 reached out to cabinet secretary Samuel Rose for clarification on the issue, but we have not received a response.
The liquor board meets Friday at 10am