• Shut 'Em Down

      Tonight is considered one of the worst nights to be on the road because of the risk of encountering drunk drivers.

      Entrepreneur Karim Varela had an idea that might alleviate that problem.  In 2008, he started an online business called i-Booze.com.  Customers ordered beer, wine, and cigarettes from their home, and Varela would deliver it to them in about an hour.

      He came up with the business idea after he had spent a night in jail for drinking and driving.  “I thought maybe there’s some way I could prevent other people from having the same kind of predicament,” he told FOX Seattle.  Customers liked the idea, saying it’s good to keep drunk drivers off the road.

      But, of course, no business is ever too useful or clever for government to hassle:

      [I]n April, the city of Bellevue told him the business was violating its home-base business zoning standards because it had more than two employees.

      Varela relocated to an Eastlake warehouse and filed for a new liquor license, but kept running the business.

      "I wasn't going to stop the business and shut it down,'' he said.

      While he waited for the license, a state liquor board conducted a sting, placing an order in Seattle.

      "Five minutes later they stormed the warehouse with three officers," Varela said.

      Why wouldn’t the city give him a liquor license?  According to City Attorney Tom Carr, businesses with liquor licensees are prohibited from selling to intoxicated people.  Even if these intoxicated people were at home, the city took offense.  Misdemeanor charges were brought against Varela.

      Varela shuttered i-Booze in August, just as it was starting to see positive cash flow.
      Gone are his plans to expand to San Francisco and Las Vegas.