Unanimous action taken Thursday by the Calvert County Liquor Board is paving the way for a significant business transaction to occur.
The three-member board granted an application for a Class A Off Sale Beer, Wine and Liquor license to Constance Rae Gott of Port Republic, which will allow for on-site sales at Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown.
During the hearing, John M. Gott Jr. confirmed there is a contract to purchase the business on Hunting Creek Road from the Bowen family, which established the grocery store in 1929.
John Gott said the pending sale was contingent on the granting of the Class A license.
Although Bowen’s currently sells beer and wine, the town center area of Huntingtown does not have a retail liquor store.
John Gott told the board that the store has 25 employees and will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
He told the board that the liquor products will be kept behind a counter. “Only the most popular stuff” will be kept in stock for retail purchase, he added. When asked if residents living in proximity to the store are aware that liquor will be sold there, John Gott stated, “they know.”
During a telephone interview Monday, John Gott told The Calvert Recorder that the Bowen family contacted him a few months ago “to see if we had any interest” in purchasing the grocery store.
As the parties continue to move toward finalizing the transaction, the Gotts are hopeful of attaining store ownership this summer.
“I’m hoping to be taking over by the end of July or in early August,” said John Gott. “We’re not changing anything. I am hoping to retain all the current employees. It’s a good marriage.”
John Gott was effusive in his praise for the Bowen family, admitting it will be “a challenge” to maintain their “standards.”
The Gott family has also been a key component of the Calvert County/Southern Maryland business community for several decades.
The Gott Company is a third-generation, family-run business that currently owns and operates seven Fastop convenience stores in Calvert — there is also one in Leonardtown — and is also a commercial motor fuel provider.
Additionally, the company owns Magic Tunnel Car Wash in Prince Frederick.
“It was time,” said Dale Bowen, who attended Thursday’s hearing but did not testify. “Mom and dad are getting older, and I’m tired. It’s time to step away. We were blessed to have the best employees. We’ve always been supported by the community and we’ve supported them.”
Dale Bowen told The Calvert Recorder that selling the business to another local family with a lengthy record of customer service “was very important to us.”
The store’s familiar rooftop cow is considered by many locals to be Calvert County’s equivalent to the Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower.
John Gott told The Calvert Recorder that the cow belongs to the Bowen family is not included in the pending transaction.
Dale Bowen confirmed this, saying that he, his father, Gordon, his mother, Grace and the cow will leave as a team.
As for the cow’s next destination, he added, “that’s going to dad’s house.”