On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Palmyra Borough Council will hold a public hearing concerning the transfer of a liquor license owned by Ninkovich LLC from 800 Cumberland St., Lebanon, to 1 E. Main St., Palmyra.

The liquor license, currently in safekeeping status, was last used to operate The Samler on 8th in Lebanon.

According to public records and Lebanon Daily News archival coverage, The Samler shuttered in June 2018, right around the time the PLCB finalized a $1,500 case against the establishment for underage liquor sales.

According to PLCB records, the sole member of Ninkovich LLC is Derek L. Ninkovich, the brother of Chris Behney, owner of the former Just Wing It restaurants in Lebanon and Annville, according to Lancaster Newspapers archival coverage.

As owner of Just Wing It, Behney was sued in December 2018 by former Lebanon Valley College student Ricky Lee Bugg Jr. over an incident that took place in January 2017. U.S. Middle District Judge Jennifer P. Wilson found that Behney did verbally accost Buggs in Behney’s Just Wing It restaurant with statements such as – “I own four restaurants, I don’t need you (racist slur)’s money here” and “Get out (racist slur)” – and ordered Just Wing It to pay $40,000 to Bugg’s through a default judgment entered in April 2020.

Behney, who purchased the 1 E. Main St. property in October 2022 for $199,000, is the applicant for the liquor license transfer, according to documents obtained from Palmyra Borough.

It was not immediately clear whether Behney is also a member of Ninkovich LLC; Derek L. Ninkovich is the only member listed on PLCB records and Ninkovich LLC’s state incorporation records does not list its members.

The Palmyra property was purchased by Behney as an individual and not through the LLC.

Records suggest that Behney is in a haste to get the transfer passed.

“The letter to Mr. Behney explains that his request that the hearing be held on September 27 was both unreasonably (sic) and a violation of the Liquor Code. It also explains how the Borough has been accommodating in the event that he suggests to Council that neither you nor I were willing to work with him,” said solicitor Josele Cleary in a letter to borough manager Roger Powl.

Cleary also notes that Behney must reimburse the borough for its attorneys’ fees, which are “unusually high because of the way this has been handled.”

LebTown has been unable to reach either Behney or Ninkovich for comment as of publication time. It’s not clear what sort of restaurant may be planned for the space.

Cleary prepared two resolutions to be available for the hearing: one to approve the request and another to deny it.

The hearing is planned to take place during council’s regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 24. The hearing had originally been scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, but was rescheduled due to a technical issue with the original legal advertisements’ omission of a hearing time as required by the state’s Sunshine Law. New advertisements are expected to be published in the coming weeks.

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Davis Shaver is the publisher of LebTown. He grew up in Lebanon and currently lives outside of Hershey, PA.


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