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No exemption for Summit, Union

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | APRIL 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City’s under-21 population can watch drag shows at Studio 13 or local bands at Blue Moose into the early morning, but they’ll have to stay away from two local bars.

The Union Bar, 121 E. College St., had its entertainment-venue exception revoked in an April 3 letter sent by Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine to the bar owners.

The bar had up to 10 days after the letter was dated to file an appeal; however, because the 10th day falls on a Sunday, the bar was given until today to file the appeal.

The Union’s attorney said the owners intend to file an appeal today, said Assistant City Attorney Eric Goers.

In a separate letter, Hargadine denied an exception to the Summit Restaurant and Bar, 10 S. Clinton St.

Entertainment-venue exceptions to the under-21 ordinance allow 19- and 20-year-olds to remain in establishments that serve alcohol after 10 p.m., provided the business has at least 150 live performances per year. DJs are not considered live performers.

Exempted businesses cannot have more than one cited sale of alcohol to an underage person in the previous five years.

Summit has one cited sale to a patron under the legal age and one pending charge in the past year, which was cause for the denial. Hargadine also said the bar did not demonstrate a plan to host 150 shows.

Regarding the pending charge, Hargadine wrote, “… it is not our burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the delivery took place, but your burden to prove that the delivery did not take place.”

Summit managing partner Brad Temple said he will not contest the denial.

“I can’t fight an ordinance,” Temple said. “It is what it is … there’s no point in trying to fight it because you, A, can’t win and, B, there’s nothing in it for you.”

However, he said “if the ordinance changes, we might take another look.”

Summit was previously denied an exception in 2010.

Union was awarded the exception in March. Hargadine wrote Union lost its privilege after its ratio of minors cited for alcohol possession to police visits in the past 12 months rose to 0.267. The City Council set a ratio threshold of 0.25 for businesses to maintain the exception.

Union’s owner George Wittgraf could not be reached for comment.

One city official was not surprised by Union’s revocation.

“They don’t do a good job of policing themselves,” said City Councilor Terry Dickens. “It’s just a matter of the history of the establishment, and Union’s history has not been good over the years.”

Five downtown businesses have entertainment-venue exemptions: Blue Moose, 211 Iowa Ave.; Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St.; Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St.; Studio 13, 13 S. Linn St.; and the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St.


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