After the dinner crowd clears at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant, the tables are moved to make room for the tipsy 20-somethings dancing to loud music while holding their beers and mixed drinks.
But by day, the late-night hot spot is a full-service restaurant complete with kid-friendly food options and even a special menu for dogs, which are welcomed to sit with owners on the patio.
General Manager Ryan Fairman said Lucy’s is every bit as much a family-friendly eatery as it is a bar.
But just like a bar, Lucy’s has to close its doors to the public on Sundays — a day that used to be one of its most profitable, Fairman said.
Up until July 2010, Lucy’s was opened seven days a week, offering a brunch menu on Sundays. But because alcohol sales exceeded food sales, Lucy’s was forced to shut down on Sundays.
Now Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle is attempting to change the local ordinance to help restaurants like Lucy’s stay open on Sundays.
“It’s not very common that you have a full-service family-friendly restaurant that on weekend nights transforms into a nightlife scene,” Fairman said. “So at the end of the day we’re being penalized for about eight or nine hours of business we do throughout the week.”
The parish ordinance requires restaurants to serve 60 percent nonalcoholic goods in order to stay open on Sundays.
Fairman said Lucy’s was coming up just short of the quota.
Marcelle is proposing that restaurants only be required to sell 55 percent nonalcoholic goods, and hotel and motel restaurants would only have to meet a 50 percent quota.
“I saw many restaurants not being able to meet the mark, and a lot of them ended up closing up,” Marcelle said. “If that business is not open, then we can’t expect them to earn revenues, and then the city-parish doesn’t get any tax revenue.”
Metro Council members will discuss a policy change Wednesday during a Finance and Executive Committee meeting. The full council is expected to vote on the proposition the following Wednesday.
The state requirement for restaurants to be open Sunday is for 50 percent of sales to be nonalcoholic, Marcelle said.
“We’re one of the few cities in the state with the 60-40 requirement,” she said. “All over the state, they are 50-50.”
Marcelle said she wants hotels to have the 50-50 quota because “their primary goal is to sell rooms, not to serve food or alcohol.”
She said she will also propose a new permit for special events that fall on Sundays — like the Super Bowl — that would allow businesses to pay the city to be open for the one-day occasion.
ABC Director Chris Cranford said sales quotas are intended to keep bars and clubs from operating on Sundays.
“We don’t want a business to say they’re operating as a restaurant, but when we check on a Sunday, they’re really operating as a bar room,” Cranford said.
But Fairman said the restrictions have hurt his business and his employees.
He said now he uses Sundays as a cleaning day for the store.
“I can’t tell you the amount of families and people in general who were all walking by that I had to turn away because I had to explain this kind of outdated Baton Rouge law,” he said.
He added the rule is a hindrance to downtown growth.
“They want to build up this downtown and bring in residential, and yet here you finally have some place that wants to be open, and then they pull the cord on us,” he said.