Some discuss potential ‘BYOB’ clubs


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The next step for Iowa City bar patrons may be hauling their own beer to local clubs.

Though Iowa City City Councilor Mike Wright said the council hasn’t yet discussed the possibility of any bring your own beer venues, he said the city attorney has explored the legality and feasibility of the prospect.

Some community members were skeptical about whether a BYOB establishment would succeed in Iowa City with the 21-ordinance in effect.

“I think it’ll work depending on the venue,” said Tom Lenoch, a former bar manager of One-eyed Jakes. “It’ll have to be aimed at music or entertainment. It would need a reason to work.”

But in this type of scenario, eh said, owners would have to dedicate significant staff attention to making sure underage patrons aren’t drinking.

“It would take a lot of self-policing,” he said. “It would put a lot on the staff.”

Other regions of Iowa have also considered the possibility of BYOB clubs.

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Cedar Falls City Councilor Nick Taiber said he would encourage a BYOB establishment in the city, which is home to the University of Northern Iowa. There are no such venues at present.

“Here, we have no excessive regulations for businesses to overcome,” Taiber said. “I’m encouraged to see this type of movement to serve clientele.”

Taiber said whenever the government regulates the city’s social aspects, people try to overcome the consequences of those regulations.

Des Moines does have a number of BYOB venues, including Club AM, and Des Moines City Councilor Robert Mahaffey said such establishments haven’t posed a problem. He said a BYOB club doesn’t draw any more police attention than any other bar or tavern.

“If it had any problems, we would have been aware of it,” he said.

The club’s manager declined to discuss his strategies for policing the venue.

The Partnership for Alcohol safety — a group of UI and city officials, as well as local business owners — discussed the possibility of BYOB establishments in Iowa City during its last meeting in December, said member Mark Ginsberg.

“We talked about putting it on the radar and being aware of all possibilities,” he said.

But he said he doesn’t see BYOB as a way around the 21-ordinance for bars.

“If you want to drink and you’re under 21, you’ll drink,” he said.

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