Restaurateur asks for help

Wal-Mart blocks wing place over beer and pool tables.

By BETH HENRY
JOURNALIST STAFF WRITER

CHARLES TOWN – Tensions between a corporate giant and a restaurant founder over beer and pool tables have spilled into the Jefferson County Development Authority.

Ira Levy, founder of the Beer & Buffalo Wings restaurant chain, came before the Development Authority in a regular meeting Tuesday and asked for support. Levy is trying to lease a restaurant building in Charles Town, but he said leaders at the local Wal-Mart are standing in his way.

Kimco Realty owns the property that Levy wants to lease, and Wal-Mart is also located in that shopping center. As a clause in Wal-Mart’s lease, the corporation basically has the power to review and approve other leases on the property, Levy said.

In this case, Levy said the Wal-Mart leaders don’t want Beer & Buffalo Wings to lease the restaurant space because of concerns over alcohol, pool tables and slot machines, as well as parking lot issues.

“I compromised by saying there would be no Keno, no slots – just beer and wine – no liquor.” Levy said. “ButWal-Mart still says they don’t want (to approve the lease.)”

The Wal-Mart realty manager who handled the case could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Levy said the Beer & Buffalo Wings & Beer has done business with Wal-Mart in other areas, and he was disappointed the Charles Town store leaders weren’t cooperating.

“It’s a slap in our face,” Levy said, explaining he has put a lot of effort into bringing in a new business. “I don’t know what else to do.”

Levy said he has been trying to lease the restaurant building, which used to be the Golden Corral, for nearly a year. He also said Wal-Mart stores in other areas share parking lot space with restaurants that serve alcohol, so he isn’t sure why his business is being singled out.

Levy added he plans to hire local employees and improve the building’s appearance, and his company would also support community groups and charities.

During the meeting, Development Authority members said they appreciate what Wal-Mart has done for the Charles Town area but they want to encourage new economic development.

Development Authority member Mark A. Dyek said people in the community want more restaurants in Charles Town.

“I think it may be appropriate for this board to support more restaurants,” Dyek said.

Other members agrees, and the Development Authority unanimously decided to send a letter to the manager of the Charles Town Wal-Mart asking for support of the Buffalo Wings & Beer restaurant and new economic development.