Highland-Based Cofee Shop Wants to Add Video Gaming Machines to Make Business Work

Soon, Highland’s leaders will have to make a decision whether or not to permit a new coffee shop to open and operate a gaming room.

The owners of the place, Dustin and Laura Barry have filed an application for a D2 liquor license for their Molly’s Mochas cafe. Under the license, they will be able to offer both liquor and video gaming machines on their premises.

The new cafe, Molly’s Mochas, is to be situated where a former convenience store used to be, at 916 Sixth St. in Highland. The place, however, has been vacant for no less than 10 years, according to its new owner. Mr. Barry revealed that a renovation worth $100,000 was planned for the place and further noted that renderings and a menu have already been submitted, indicating that the owners intended to sell gourmet coffee, soups, salads, sandwiches, ice cream, and baked goods on a patio and inside the venue.

As shared by the owner, wine and liquor would also be sold at the restaurant. A walk-up window for to-go orders is also being considered. The gaming and gambling section, however, is what is considered controversial. According to plans submitted to the Highland’s Council, it would be an addition to the venue and would include six video gambling terminals (VGTs).

Some Council Members Concerned about the Addition of Video Gaming Machines

Despite increasing concerns regarding the fate of the place after the potential addition of the gaming machines, proponents of the VGTs claim that the venue would not be turned into a gaming parlor that sells coffee. The owners’ idea is to have a gourmet coffee shop that has a gaming room as an additional service.

Apart from that, they have confirmed that non-gaming operations would generate the major part of the venue’s overall revenue. Still, the owners explained they need several revenue streams in order to make the place work. That is why they have noted that Molly’s Mocha would not start operation without the gambling part, because its business model would not be able to survive only on the offering of coffee and other foods and beverages.

For now, some council members remain concerned about the proposal. Councilmember Peggy Bellm shared she was not convinced that what she called the venue’s “limited menu” and limited parking space would manage to meet the authority’s guidelines.

Councilman John Hipskind, on the other hand, is worried about the proposed gambling options, saying that the place would be turned into a gaming hall. For now, the council voted decided to table the project to its upcoming meeting with 3 to 1 votes.

The owners of the place suggested that the council could consider an additional requirement that no more than 50% of the business’ revenue could be derived from gambling. They, however, reiterated the fact they would hardly manage to make it work without the addition of controversial video gaming terminals.