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Back-to-school booze boosts Belmont

Matt Bramanti | Monday, September 29, 2003

As students returned to campus for the first week of classes, they were faced with many challenges: club meetings, new roommates and class schedules all jockeyed for attention. But as the weekend approached, thoughts soon turned from chemistry and philosophy to that empty refrigerator in the corner.

The folks at Belmont Beverage are working hard to fill that void.

Belmont, the closest liquor store to Notre Dame, sits on South Bend Avenue just south of campus. According to Beverage Retailer magazine, a trade publication, the 25-store chain sells more than $12 million worth of beer annually.

If the first week’s sales are any indication, the store is looking forward to a great year, says manager Mary Beth Lang.

“It was a very good week,” Lang said, noting that her store sold 107 kegs of beer last week. That’s a lot of beer, over 1,600 gallons, or enough for every Notre Dame student, professor, administrator and trustee to enjoy a cold one.

Many of those kegs ended up at the Turtle Creek apartment complex, where students flock to “Rally in the Alley” at the beginning of every academic year.

Along with booming business, however, comes trouble. Lang said the incidence of underage students attempting to buy alcohol is on the rise, and phony IDs are getting closer and closer to the real thing. She worries about the future of her business, noting that the state has stepped up enforcement actions against establishments who sell to minors.

“I really wish [the students] would stop with the fake IDs,” she said. “If I lose my license, I lose my house.”

Despite the risks, Belmont is here for the long haul-this year, it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

And Lang continues to welcome student business, especially during the Irish football season. “The mood depends on if we’re winning or not,” she said, but alcohol sales are up either way.

“They’re either going to cry in their beer or be happy in it,” she said. “But it’s always nice to see happy students.”