The building that once housed Club Fusion in Davenport will get new life soon as a Q-C Mart and as a bar, possibly a resurrection of the Rockin’ Ham Bar & Grill.
In discussing his plans for the building at 813 W. 2nd St., Bill Ernst told Davenport aldermen Wednesday that the increase in the cigarette tax in Illinois was a catalyst for the move.
Ernst had a stake in the Rockin’ Ham, and he owns 16 Q-C Mart stores in the Quad-Cities, including eight in Davenport. He is applying for a beer license for Q-C Mart and a liquor license for the bar.
Since the tax rate increase went into effect June 24, he said, cigarette sales at his tobacco shop and convenience store near the Centennial Bridge in Rock Island have dropped 82 percent. Four other Illinois Quad-City stores have seen cigarette sales declines ranging from 25 to 50 percent.
“I’ve seen this problem before,” Ernst said.
When Illinois first raised its cigarette tax a few years back, he said, tobacco sales at his Q-C Mart at the foot of the Interstate 74 bridge in Bettendorf jumped considerably. When Iowa followed Illinois’ lead and raised its tobacco tax, sales tapered off.
Now, Ernst said, Iowa’s cross-border tobacco sales have jumped once again.
Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, said he welcomed the new businesses to an area of west Davenport that needs them.
“It’s another bright idea by Illinois Governor (Pat) Quinn that is working out well for the state of Iowa,” Edmond said.
While some might fuss about cigarette sales, he said, “The government can protect me from terrorists. Don’t protect me from myself. It’s a legal business.”
Alderman Bill Boom, in whose 3rd Ward the businesses will be located, said he supports Ernst.
“The building will be too big for just one business,” Boom said of the proposed location. “He’ll be able to split the building and create two legal addresses.
“It’s a positive move for the area.”
Ernst said the original Rockin’ Ham, which was located at 1334 W. 2nd St., was purchased by Kraft Foods in 2010 after the company made an offer “we just couldn’t refuse.”