St. Charles bar owners suggest alternatives to 11 p.m. 'last-call' proposal
Owners from Main Street St. Charles restaurants and bars met with city officials Tuesday to propose alternatives to a bill that would ban the sale of alcohol at most bars after 11 p.m.
The proposals included a possible new tax on liquor sales, new parking fees after 9 p.m. and more parking security to reduce crimes on Main Street. Others suggested that bars on Main Street should have to earn at least 60 percent of its revenue from food sales and no more than 40 percent of its revenue from alcohol.
The proposed city ordinance would apply to all bars and restaurants located along a four-block stretch between Clark and Jefferson streets. Under the proposed bill, the establishments would be allowed to remain open past 11 p.m. but wouldn't be permitted to sell any alcohol.
Supporters of the bill say they hope making “last call” earlier will bring down the number of crimes on the street. By early June 2018, the St. Charles Police Department had reported 181 misdemeanor crimes and quality-of-life issues along the nearly half-mile stretch of Main Street.
Bars "honest" about addressing problems
“There have been issues for as long as it’s been an entertainment district, and we are coming to the table with viable solutions for it,” said Curtis Wilcoxen, a manager at Lloyd and Harry’s, a bar located on Main Street. “We need to be honest and address that there is a problem, and we also need to be sharp and honest with our solutions.”
Some bar owners have said the proposed ordinance could drive out businesses on Main Street and lead to more people driving drunk as they search for bars that serve alcohol later than 11 p.m. Wilcoxen and other bar owners have suggested to city officials that they levy a tax on alcohol sold at Main Street bars and restaurants to help pay for a larger security presence.
“If there is something that is going to deter restaurants from becoming bars, as well as provide revenue for overtime police officers, you can get two birds, one stone, and it's something that will flex with the test of time,” said Wilcoxen.
Solutions proposed by the bar and restaurant owners and city officials will be presented on Friday to the St. Charles City Council.
More than an entertainment district
“We want to make sure that those that come are safe and leave safe,” said St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith. “We want to work at the best way to do it, and I think that’s where our discussion is going.”
Faith said she wants Main Street to be more than just a bar district and to remain a place for dining and shopping.
A final version of the bill could be voted on by the St. Charles City Council on July 3.
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