Now that Douglas County voters removed the restaurant requirment for drinking establishments, several of the remaining local Class B private clubs are planning to get drinking establishment licenses.
And the result will be more entertainment options in Lawrence which should bring more visitors to the city, one of the owners says.
"That's one of the ambiances of Lawrence, the entertainment that they can have when they're down here," says Reed Brinton, owner of Benchwarmers Sports Bar and Grill, a private club at 1601 W. 23rd. "It's a great thing for the city because we need to bring in revenues from outside the city."
Brinton said he is in the process of applying to the state to get a drinking establishment license.
Benchwarmers was formerly a drinking establishment, he said. But it recently was forced to change status to a Class B private club because it struggled to make a drinking establishment requirement that 30 percent of its revenue be from food sales.
Class B private clubs don't need to meet any food-sales requirements, but they are required to charge $10 for membership and have a 10-day waiting period for that membership to take effect.
BOB ENGLER, director of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control division, said that despite passage of a home-rule ordinance in Douglas County waiving the food requirement Class B private clubs must be granted a drinking establishment license before they can open their doors to the general public.
"They're still a Class B club until they are granted a new license," Engler said.
Bars that were already drinking establishments automatically had the food requirement removed when the ABC was notified about the county's election results, Engler said.
Currently, there are 45 licensed drinking establishments in Douglas County and 18 Class B private clubs, he said.
Leslie Elkins, manager of Just a Playhouse, a Class B private club at 1806 W. 24th, said the Playhouse has applied for a drinking establishment license.
ONCE THE BAR has the new license, Elkins said, the major change will be in not having to sell memberships.
Will there be an increase in business?
"It's hard to say," she said.
Rick Renfro, one of the partners at Johnny's Tavern, a drinking establishment at 403 N. Second, said removing the food requirement makes running his business easier.
"What it will enable us to do is not have as many food specials," Renfro said. "We struggled with that 30 percent."
The ABC's Engler said Douglas County is now among eight counties that have removed the food requirement for bars.
After the November election, 46 of the state's 105 counties are "wet," which means they allow liquor by the drink either with or without a 30 percent food requirement.
HERE IS a breakdown of the election results:
Two counties that had been dry since 1986, when voters changed the Kansas Constitution to allow county-option liquor by the drink, put measures on their ballots to allow liquor by the drink without any food sale requirements. The measure passed in Graham County, but failed in Logan County.
Six counties that had been dry passed liquor by the drink with the food provision: Norton, Smith, Bourbon, Sumner, Morris and Pawnee counties.
Like Douglas County, Crawford and Lyon counties approved removing the 30 percent food-sales restrictions from their laws. However, similar measures failed in Pottawatomie and Sherman counties, which still retain the restaurant requirements for their drinking establishments.