Fuel Depot plans to switch to private bar

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Faced with expensive kitchen upgrades to comply with new state and federal restaurant regulations, the Fuel Depot Bar & Grill on Statesville Boulevard wants to keep the bar but drop the grill.
Owner Michael Hege asked the Salisbury Planning Board on Tuesday for a special use permit to operate as a private club at 2168 Statesville Boulevard. The location has been a bar and restaurant for more than 20 years.
Since Hege will stop selling food, he must have a special use permit from the city to sell alcohol. Planning Board recommended approval to City Council, which will consider the request June 5.
Hege said he never determined exactly how much it would cost to install the required grease trap.
“But from talking to other owners, I knew it was not a good business decision to move forward with it,” he told the Post after the meeting.
Food sales have decreased at the Fuel Depot over the years, and the business was probably “not in total compliance” with ABC requirements, said Richard Huffman, Hege’s attorney. Huffman serves on the Planning Board but did not participate in Tuesday’s meeting as a board member.
As a private club, the Fuel Depot will require members to fill out an application with their name, address and phone number. Hege bought the bar in 2011. Hours and appearance will remain the same.
“The main difference is, he will have control over everybody who comes in,” Huffman said.
Police and fire officials have inspected the facility, which has a capacity of 73 people. Hege hires extra security when he has live entertainment, Huffman said.
Out of about 300 restaurants in Rowan County served by Salisbury-Rowan Utilities, roughly 50 remain out of compliance with new fat, oil and grease regulations, also called FOG, said David Phillips, the city zoning administrator.
The Fuel Depot still could come under some FOG regulation if the bar serves drinks including dairy products, Phillips said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.