CARY – The Cary Village Board rejected a request for a video gambling license for Bella's Bistro Market after postponing the vote twice over concerns that the business was more like a gambling cafe than an upscale wine bar.
A liquor license for the wine bar and Italian market was approved with trustees Jim Cosler, Ellen McAlpine, Kim Covelli and Mayor Mark Kownick voting ‘yes,’ and trustees Christine Betz, Jennifer Weinhammer and Jeff Kraus voting ’no.’
However, the board denied giving the business a video gaming license, with McAlpine and Covelli being the only ‘yes’ votes.
Despite her approval, McAlpine said she still had some reservations.
"I just have that little concern about whether it's a gambling parlor or whether it's something else," she said at the June 20 meeting.
Rocky Bhalla – president of RSB Wine Bar Inc., which owns and operates Bella's Bistro Market – showed the Village Board photos of his yet-to-be-opened Round Lake location.
"I think our concept is beautiful. It'll bring more revenue to your town," Bhalla said. "Our buildup is really expensive, but it'll look cool in the corner with the exposure we have. I'm going out of my way to go to a large unit, spend more money in rent."
Bhalla emphasized that with each location, he plans to expand in size. The Round Lake location, which will open in August, is 1,200 square feet. The proposed Cary location, a corner unit in the Cary Shopping Center at 630 Route 14, is 2,400 square feet.
Weinhammer said she liked the concept but still had concerns over the location. She previously said she didn't want to affect existing businesses in the same shopping center, such as Breaking Bread.
Bhalla said he would not move forward with opening the location with out the gambling license, and he will come back before the Village Board after the Round Lake location opens. He also plans to open a Round Lake Beach location, which is currently under construction.
The concept plan includes a food and wine counter, a large seating area, a VIP room with video gaming machines and an Italian market space. The gaming room will take up less than 10 percent of the space, Bhalla said.
Cary’s policy previously has been to support video gambling as an accessory to a restaurant or existing business, according to village documents.
"We're just looking out to making sure that we're remaining consistent," Kownick said. "We have petitioners every day calling us asking us for this. We have existing businesses here in town that have nothing to do with food or liquor, but they want to have gaming. We have to be very careful as to the direction we are going."