The Eldridge Hotel's new bar must meet the city's new food-sales requirement.
The Eldridge Hotel is looking to squeeze the last drops of Prohibition from its historic halls.
Tonight, Lawrence city commissioners are expected to approve the Eldridge's hotel liquor license, extending alcohol-serving authority to all four dozen suites and 60,000 square feet.
It would be the first time since 1919, possibly ever, that liquor could flow throughout the building previously destroyed by fire, Quantrill's raid and a wrecking ball.
"It's kind of an historic moment," said Rob Phillips, the hotel's manager. "You can go anywhere in the hotel and get a drink."
The focus, however, will be on Jayhawkers, a small coffee shop and bar that opened last week in a space previously occupied by a clothing store. The bar will team up with Shalor's, a new street-level restaurant, to serve and cater to visitors and guests.
Both businesses are owned by the hotel and managed by Phillips, falling under the collective umbrella covered by a state liquor license granted Nov. 1. Liquor also will be available through room service.
The city should approve the license, provided the hotel, 701 Mass., abides by an ordinance requiring new downtown bars to earn at least 55 percent of their total sales from food, said Ray Hummert, city clerk.
No problem, Phillips said. The restaurant and bar should take in $880,000 through next October, of which $240,000 -- or 27 percent -- should come from beer and liquor.
City commissioners passed the food-sales requirement last year, to ensure that no more traditional bars could open downtown. Concerns about litter, loitering and public safety dominated discussions.
"I don't think anybody's going to raise the issue," Commissioner John Nalbandian said. "I don't see any problems."
Phillips said the city needn't worry. Jayhawkers seats only 30 people, who will listen to soft, mellow music -- "It won't be head-knocking," he said -- and dine on hors d'oeuvres including crisp vegetable sushi and wild mushrooms stuffed with smoked pheasant.
Then again, overflow liquor could reach 70 people in the hall, 100 people in the vacant Big Six Sports Bar downstairs, 150 in the Crystal Room and more among guests.
"The intent is to serve drinks for social functions, not for drink-and-drowns," Phillips said.
Today's meeting begins at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.