Two Lafayette City-Parish Council members are floating the idea of tweaking the 12-year-old ban on new bars in downtown Lafayette in an effort to open the door for more entertainment venues.
Councilmen Patrick Lewis and Bruce Conque submitted a resolution for Tuesday’s council meeting to ask the City-Parish Zoning Commission to research allowing bars as a “conditional” use downtown, meaning any new bar would need to meet certain requirements and secure approval from the Zoning Commission and the council.
The proposed resolution does not lay out specifics, but Conque said the intent is to carve out an exception for a what he called a “hybrid” entertainment venue that, among other things, would offer a minimum amount of live music.
The council in 2003 approved the ban on new bars downtown at a time when a string of clubs were opening along Jefferson Street, raising concerns about the area becoming Lafayette’s version of Bourbon Street.
Only downtown properties with bar permits when the ban passed can continue to operate as bars.
Talk of revisiting the ban began last year, sparked, in part, by the predicament of Artmosphere Bistro, a downtown music venue trying to secure a bar permit because the establishment is struggling to keep food sales above 50 percent — a requirement to keep selling alcohol under its restaurant liquor permit.
Artmosphere owner Beryl Moody has been operating with the restaurant liquor permit for several years but has come under increasing pressure from the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to meet the 50 percent food sales requirement or give up the liquor license.
ATC in September gave Artmosphere a six-month reprieve at the behest of the council, which had asked for a delay pending possible changes to the zoning law on bars downtown.
The resolution up for a vote at Tuesday’s council meeting does not put in place a timeline for exploring those changes, but Conque said it is conceivable that revised regulations could be in place by late spring if the majority of the Zoning Commission and council are on board.