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Bethel Autoshop Owner Applying For Bethel's Final Liquor Store License

Katie Basile

Bethel resident and owner of a local auto-body shop, Cezary Maczynski, is in the process of applying for a package store liquor license. Before that happens, he has to make sure he is in compliance with city code. Then it's up to the state alcohol board. 

Cezary Maczynski stands at the front desk of his shop, Cezary’s Auto. He says the building is aging, but he has a garage out back that would make a good location for a liquor store. And now may be the time.

“One thing concerned me was that BNC is giving up, closing, open, the law allowed there to be three liquor stores. That’s why I decided to run for the third one to be between those two big powerful companies. I’m sure I’ll find there’s room in there," says Maczynski.

A state law allows for one package liquor store to be open for every 3,000 people, or a portion of that number in a population area. Bethel is allowed three, and if it gets approved, no other license can be issued until one of the three gives up their license or it expires. Bethel City Clerk Lori Strickler confirmed that there are no other applications being considered for a package store.

The law also allows one restaurant liquor license for every 1,500 people. The only restaurant currently serving beer and wine in Bethel is Fili’s Pizza.

Maczynski has been a longtime supporter of many organizations and programs in town, and he says if his application is fully approved he will use much of what the store earns to support positive efforts in the area.

“If I get a liquor store, I don’t have to have it, but if I get that, mostly the money will be used to sponsor positive things in Bethel. And I would like to leave some things with my name after… my life," says Maczynski.

Maczynski does not want to name the liquor store after himself. He's chosen the name Kusko Liquor. It would be right across the street from BNC’s Bethel Spirits store that opened over the summer. If he opens the store, he would also move his auto-shop to a new, as-of-yet undecided location. The current building has reached the end of its life.

“That is a 60-year-old building, and like you see right now, the door is not closing because [the building] is shifting all the time. I’m spending 40-50 thousand dollars worth on heating fuel every year. That is lots of money and it is too old to be rebuilt," says Maczynski.

For now the only option is to tear it down and move shop in two to three years after finding a new location. After that, Maczynski says he would use the extra space to expand the liquor store and provide a bigger parking area.

Cezary plans to present his plans to the council in their regular meeting next Tuesday. After that, the city will either recommend against it or take no action before sending it to the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for final consideration. If all goes according to Maczynski’s plan, he says he hopes to open Kusko Liquor by next summer.