After 144 days of fighting to regain his liquor license, Mike Cooper has won.
The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control reinstated Cooper’s license on Monday afternoon, allowing him to sell beer at Cooper’s Landing south of Columbia. The division decided not to appeal last month’s ruling from the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission, which sided with Cooper.
Division state supervisor Keith Fuller said he talked with the Missouri Attorney General’s office before deciding it was in the best interest of the case not to appeal.
Cooper said he was happy to have the court proceedings finished.
“We can get back to business like we’ve been doing it for 17 years,” Cooper said.
The battle started in June when the division decided not to renew Cooper’s liquor license. Fuller said the fact that Cooper pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine in 1993 and had not reported it to the division in his licensing request illustrated his lack of “good moral character,” which would have kept him from having a liquor license.
Public support for Cooper was high throughout the process of regaining his liquor license. Fuller received more than 40 letters sent in Cooper’s defense and more than 300 people signed a petition asking Gov. Bob Holden to grant Cooper executive clemency for the 1993 charge.
Cooper estimates his convenience store lost between $4,000 and $5,000 in revenue during the time he could not sell alcohol.
Cooper said alcohol sales will be different from now on. His new license only allows him to sell beer instead of beer and wine.
The license will also apply to his entire property, prohibiting customers from drinking anything but beer on his campgrounds and at the entertainment area no matter where it’s purchased.