Artmosphere Bistro in Lafayette receives 6-month reprieve on liquor license requirement _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Artmosphere Bistro is pictured Tuesday, September 1, 2015, at the corner of East Convent and Johnston Street in Lafayette, La.

The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has given Artmosphere Bistro in downtown Lafayette a reprieve from meeting the food sales target the business must hit to keep its liquor license.

Artmosphere was scheduled for its annual food sales audit next month, but ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert wrote in an email to the City-Parish Council office on Thursday that he would grant a six-month extension.

The council last month voted to ask Hebert for a delay pending discussions of possibly revisiting a 12-year-old ban on new bars in Lafayette.

Hebert, who has found no other violations at the business, was expected to approve the delay and has said his office is focused on the food sales requirement only because he is obligated to enforce the local ban on new bars downtown.

The bar ban is an issue because Artmosphere, a popular and artsy music venue, might be able to secure a regular bar permit if the ban is lifted or tweaked, meaning food sales would not matter.

Artmosphere owner Beryl Moody, unable to secure a bar permit because of the ban, has been operating instead with restaurant liquor permit but has struggled to keep revenues from food sales above 50 percent — a requirement to keep the permit.

The council in 2003 approved the bar ban at a time when a string of new clubs was opening along Jefferson Street downtown, raising concerns about the area becoming Lafayette’s version of Bourbon Street.