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Iron Hawk owner pleased with results of six-month exemption

BY ERIC CLARK | NOVEMBER 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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A recently opened bar has created a new spot for University of Iowa students and community members alike — even the under-21 crowd.

Iron Hawk, 122 E. Washington St., opened on Sept. 22; it was given a six-month exemption to the 21-ordinance that all new restaurants have the opportunity to use.

The Iowa City ordinance allows new establishments to apply for an exemption. At the end of the exemption, owners must submit financial information if they’d like to keep the 21-ordinance at bay.

So far, owner Aric Kos said he’s pleased with the results.

“It helps us cater to fraternities and sororities,” he said. “They schedule dinners here, and if it goes past 10 o’clock, some of them would have to leave. [The exemption] allows them to stay and prevents us from losing business.”

The Iron Hawk owner believes underage drinking isn’t a problem in his establishment, but he understands that there is potential for abuse in the future.

“We do a pretty good job of monitoring it,” he said. “We’ve got staff that walk around and do checks for minors drinking.”

The Iron Hawk has seen only two alcohol-related citations issued to customers in the past month.

However, Iowa City police didn’t record any bar checks in the month of September.

University of Iowa sophomore Brett Kosowski hasn’t been to the Iron Hawk yet, but he can see why the exemption appeals to students.

“Being downtown, their alcohol sales will probably be high regardless,” he said. “It’s definitely not a bad business decision.”

Alcohol currently makes up 40 percent of the restaurant’s profit, Kos said. Businesses are eligible for an exemption if their food revenue are more than 50 percent of the total profit.

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said he thinks the ordinance is working well, and he supports it in general, but would not be against tweaking it.

“I’m open to considering some changes of the ordinance,” he said. “But I’m not advocating any particular change.”

Throgmorton said the ordinance was necessary to attempt to deter irresponsible consumption of alcohol downtown.

“We really had to do something to temper excessive drinking,” he said. “It is a major problem.”

UI junior Ben Nigg disagrees, saying the ordinance isn’t worth the trouble it causes.

“I feel like it doesn’t really help,” he said. “It just moves the scene to residential areas. [Excessive drinking] happens there just as much, if not more.”

In Kos’ eyes, the exemption is pleasing both him and his customers. He is not sure, however, if he will apply for a renewed exemption when the current one expires in May 2013.

Kos said if underage drinking becomes an issue in his establishment, it’s unlikely he’ll pursue a renewal.


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