Restaurants allowed to serve alcohol in Camp Hill, but liquor licenses hard to come by

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CAMP HILL, Pa. -- Restaurants and grocery stores in Camp Hill, Cumberland County, are now allowed to sell alcohol if they obtain a liquor license.

A referendum Tuesday changed Camp Hill from a dry borough to a wet borough.

But not so fast.

Elizabeth Brassell, a spokesperson for Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, said, "Cumberland County is at or above its quota. So the number of licenses in each county is limited based on population. So there are no new licenses to be had in Cumberland County, so there are no new licenses to be had in Camp Hill."

So if a restaurant wants to get a license, they can do it one of two ways.

Brassell said, "What businesses interested in obtaining a license will have to do is find a current license holder that is willing to transfer that license."

Another way is buying it at an auction.

"There was a Cumberland County license up for auction last fall. The PLCB has the authority to auction off licenses, and the one in Cumberland County went for more than $500,000."

But officials said there are no Cumberland County liquor licenses up for auction this year.

The owner of Cedars Restaurant, Mike Rhayem, said, "It's $200,000-300,000 and up for a liquor license, so I don't think it's worth it."

His restaurant on Market Street in Camp Hill has a BYOB policy, where people can come in with their own alcohol.

"They save a lot of money and they enjoy having their own drink," Rhayem said.

He said even if he could afford a liquor license, it would hurt business.

"If a restaurant in Camp Hill got a liquor license, he's going to lose the customer. That is my belief. It's going to lose the customer that is a BYOB customer."

In the meantime, the PLCB still has to wait for election results from Camp Hill, which could take a couple of weeks before they can go forward.

Brassell said, "We will be accepting applications for license transfers, but we can't really process them until we get those certified election results."