City denies 21-only petition to change ‘restaurant’ definition


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Iowa City officials denied a University of Iowa student’s proposal to extend the 21-ordinance’s restaurant exemption to any business with a kitchen on Thursday.

The proposal by UIstudent Kyle Johnson would have eliminated the requirement that an establishment’s primary sales must come from food in order to have the exemption.

At present, a business must earn more than 50 percent of its gross sales from food. Under the 21-year-old’s proposal, though, a restaurant could be granted an exemption even if 99 percent of its gross sales come from alcohol, said City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes.

“I believe the proposal speaks for itself,” Johnson said.

Dilkes said the affidavit was “substantially the same” as the one filed when some voters sought to repeal the 21-ordinance in November 2010. That effort failed. Because of that similarity, it can’t be filed until Nov. 2, 2012.

The proposal also sought to remove the provision stating a restaurant includes a “cafe, cafeteria, coffee shop, delicatessen, ice-cream shop, lunchroom, or tearoom” and replace it with “a restaurant may include a bar, nightclub, pub, club or tavern, or other business on its premises.”

Johnson said he crafted the proposal after hearing numerous friends, both male and female, attending house parties and being placed in danger — men who were physically attacked and women who became too intoxicated.

“I believe it’s a necessary service,” Johnson said. “I have heard a number of very negative stories — people being in awkward situations.”

He said he believes offering students another avenue in which to socialize and a wider variety of establishments would provide much safer environments.

Iowa City City Councilor Mike Wright said he hadn’t been able to read any information contained in recently sent city documents and couldn’t comment on the matter.

Though his proposal was denied, Johnson said, he has other ideas he’s working on.

UI sophomore Chris Tabamo said he thought the change would be positive. He cited better food deals at night as a draw for underclassmen.

“I do think it’s safer in the bars because are things are more regulated in the bars,” he said.

Another UI student, Leah Goettsch, also acknowledged the dangers of house parties and admitted the late-night food could be beneficial for students.

“Maybe 19-year-olds get hungry in the middle of the night, and no where else is open,” she said.

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