By Nichole Igwe
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
The city of East Lansing refuses to be home to businesses that serve only alcohol.
The city’s 50/50 ordinance states that any restaurant or bar selling alcohol must have at least 50 percent of its income generated from food sales. The ordinance was first introduced in 1984 but restaurants and bars that existed before that date are grandfathered, or exempt.On March 18, the Public Policy Committee of the Downtown Development Authority reviewed Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar’s request to extend the hours it can serve alcohol from midnight to until 2 a.m.
“Which they won’t get,” said Community Development Analyst Timothy Schmitt, “Spencer likes to ask for everything and rarely does he get everything he wants.” According to Schmitt, Spencer’s has a full Class C resort license, which is meant for large establishments like golf courses and hotels. This enables Spencer’s to sell beer, wine, and spirits to the general public.Community and Economic Development Administrator Lori Mullins said, “MLCC had made a decision that they weren’t going to let us have a Development District Liquor license because we had a quota license and then somehow after lots of persistence, they decided they weren’t going to go back on that decision but that they would give them a resort license.”
East Lansing doesn’t have any more quota licenses to give. Quota licenses permit the sale of beer, liquor and wine in a city. One quota license may be issued for every 7,500 people per county measured by the census bureau.
Authority Chair Bill Mansfield said that he was “still upset about” losing their quota license.
Citizen volunteer Lynsey Clayton is particularly concerned because Spencer’s is in an alley. “It’s a really protected area where I feel that things could get out of hand and it would not be as noticeable to law enforcement.” She voted that the outdoor seating should be vacated past midnight and if outdoor seating is approved past midnight, no alcohol should be served after midnight.
Committee members agreed that if traffic is coming into a confined area, certain things are going to follow like passing drinks over the fence. “Unlike Harper’s and Dublin Square that are in very visible spots, Spencer’s is not very visible location and that can be an issue if its request for serving alcohol until 2 a.m. is approved,” said Clayton.
Committee members unanimously agreed that if they approve requests like Spencer’s kitchen and bar, it would only make it harder to reject them in the future.
“My goal is not to get sued,” said Schmitt.