In a stunning turn of events an ad hoc group at Kansas City City Hall charged with updating liquor regulations did an about face this morning after threatening to put 11 small businesses out of business. Included in the group were KC Councilwoman Cindy Circo and Regulated Industries manager Gary Majors.
The group’s initial game plan: to require taverns to gross $250,000 in annual sales to qualify for and/or retain their 3 a.m. liquor licenses. The existing code stipulates $100,000 in gross sales.
In a meeting yesterday with Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association president Jason Pryor, owners of the aforementioned taverns on death row, including Davey’s Uptown Ramblers and The Newsroom, met to discuss the pending changes.
“Forget the numbers, it’s right versus wrong,” Pryor told the gathering. “It’s basically institutionalized discrimination. It’s like saying, ‘You didn’t make enough money last year, you can’t have a drivers license.'”
Eight of the 11 businesses on the proverbial cusp would likely be forced out of business if the change was implemented, the group said. A lawyer had agreed to defend the small businesses for $20,000.
But hold it right there…
Why should small business owners be forced to ante up that kind of jack to defend themselves against antiquated and arbitrary, outdated laws to begin with?
However in today’s meeting, the ad hoc-sters tentatively agreed to raise the number from $100,000 to $125,000 based on the fact that the lowest existing 3 a.m. licensee’s revenue was pegged at $129,000, Pryor says.
“I think everybody realized that you can’t write an ordinance that’s going to put people out of business,” Pryor says.
That said – bar and restaurant owners stand firm in arguing against Simon Sez laws such as this one. They need to go the way of Blue Laws that once prohibited Sunday liquor sales and the like.
“We stood firm on the argument that no specific number was justifiable,” Pryor says. “Nobody wants to be looking over their shoulder and stressing over each day’s revenue, worrying that they could lose their license.”
The tavern and restaurant owner’s suggestions from today’s meeting will be reviewed over the next few days and a subsequent meeting will be held to discuss and review the ad hoc committee’s reproposed revisions, Pryor says.