Let’s say there’s a bar down the street that you don’t particularly like.
Can you get in your car, drive over to the nearest neighboring municipality building, and start the process to transfer that license, even though you are not the license holder?
You’d think this was an easy question to answer, but both the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and Palmyra Borough have seemingly stumbled over this simple premise.
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board officials said Friday, Oct. 6, that they have no knowledge of a Christopher T. Behney Jr. being a member of Ninkovich LLC.
As previously reported by LebTown, Behney, the former owner of the restaurant mini-chain Just Wing It, is seeking the transfer of a liquor license owned by Ninkovich LLC from 800 Cumberland St., Lebanon, to 1 E. Main St., Palmyra. Behney purchased the 1 E. Main St. property in October 2022 for $199,000.
“Our records show that Derek Ninkovich is the only officer for licensee Ninkovich LLC,” said PLCB spokesperson Shawn M. Kelly.
According to Lancaster Newspapers archival coverage, Derek L. Ninkovich is Behney’s brother.
Behney was previously the subject of local news coverage over a January 2017 incident at Just Wing It’s Annville location. Behney was found by a federal judge to have verbally accosted a Lebanon Valley College student with statements such as – “I own four restaurants, I don’t need you (racist slur)’s money here” and “Get out (racist slur).” Just Wing It was ordered to pay $40,000 to the student through a default judgment entered in April 2020.
It is not known whether Behney has ever been on the license or attempted to be on the license. LebTown has been unable thus far to reach Behney for comment and his legal relationship to Ninkovich LLC remains unclear.
Through a spokesperson, the PLCB declined to comment on what the relationship between Behney and Ninkovich LLC might be.
“The PLCB does not comment on the relationship between licensees and non-licensees,” said Kelly.
Ninkovich LLC’s state incorporation record does not list its members.
The PLCB would not respond to hypotheticals, such as what it would do if Palmyra Borough approved an intermunicipal liquor license that was being requested by a non-party to the license. The PLCB’s policy, as stated to LebTown, is that it cannot review a transfer application until the municipality approves it first, and each application is reviewed on an individual basis.
The state liquor code has language that allows the liquor board to approve license holders on the basis of their “good repute,” and criminal records may be considered as part of this board determination. Behney does have a criminal record, including guilty pleas to misdemeanor homicide by vehicle, misdemeanor simple assault, and misdemeanor DUI. The most recent of these incidents occurred 15 years ago.
Contacted Friday, Oct. 6, Palmyra Borough manager Roger Powl said he was unsure of Behney’s relationship to Ninkovich LLC.
“He makes it sound like he already owns it and just needs to transfer it,” said Powl of the license, alluding to the fact that sometimes intermunicipal liquor license transfers are sought as a precondition of a liquor license sale. “Or it’s a partnership or relative, I have no idea.”
LebTown asked Powl whether the borough believes that Behney has legal standing to request the intermunicipal liquor license transfer, and why or why not.
Powl said later that the question of standing is a “factual issue.”
“Facts will be presented at the hearing,” said Powl. “It is better for the borough to hold a hearing on a questionable application than risk a deemed approval for a failure to hold a hearing.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the borough ran a public notice in the Lebanon Daily News advertising a new meeting date of Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. The hearing had originally been scheduled for 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.
Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.
Do you want to see more from LebTown?
Support local news. Cancel anytime.
Already a member? Login here
Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.