Keep the kitchens open to keep 21-exemptions


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Bars with food-related exemptions to the 21-ordinance should be required to keep their kitchens open until the entire bar closes.

The city currently allows establishments that make a certain percentage of their income from food to remain open to those under the legal drinking age after 10 p.m.

However, with the food-related exemption, it is counterintuitive to close the kitchens before the bar closes. Additionally, if bars with food-related exemptions are allowed to close their kitchens before the bar closes, it can be a way for them to abuse their exemption and makes it easier for underage drinkers to get their hands on alcohol. Some places with kitchens still have a cover for people to get in. If the establishments with food-related exemptions were to close their kitchens earlier than they closed the bar, they could be charging underage people the cover charge to increase business and profit, even though the underage attendees will not be able to eat or drink and will therefore be in violation of the 21-ordinance.

Additionally, another one of the proposed amendments to the 21-ordinance would require places with a food-related exemption to the 10 p.m. rule to maintain a ratio of less than one underage alcohol charge. If these establishments have no cover charge and close their kitchens early, the likelihood that they would sell alcohol to underage people is heightened by the need to make a profit and the larger percentage of legal drinking adults in the club.

Therefore, the likelihood that their alcohol licenses would be revoked is higher than most clubs without food-related exemptions or clubs with food-related exemptions that keep their kitchens open until closing. It is not an exaggeration to say that, in Iowa City, a bar, even if it has a fully functioning kitchen that reaps more than 50 percent of its yearly income, would go out of business if its alcohol license were revoked. With kitchens open, underage people will be less tempted to eat, for they have other options. Additionally, the food-related exemption will not be abused. Even though it might be costly for a restaurant to keep the kitchen staff on duty until bar close, it makes sense in the long run, both financially and politically, to do so.

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