- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette city-parish officials may soon revisit a 12-year-old ban on new bars in downtown Lafayette. The move would open the door for allowing new venues under certain circumstances.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1N2jPzt) no specific proposal is on the table, but the Downtown Development Authority and some members of the City-Parish Council and the City-Parish Zoning Commission are eyeing possible changes.

The discussions have been sparked by the predicament of Artmosphere Bistro, an artsy 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, which wants her to meet the 50 percent food sales requirement or give up the liquor license.

Artmosphere is set for its annual food sales audit in October, and the City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to ask ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert to delay the audit pending possible changes to allow Artmosphere to be permitted as a bar.

The council’s request carries no legal weight, but Moody said Hebert has already consented to hold off, considering his office is cracking down on Artmosphere only to enforce the local law banning new bars downtown.

“If we can resolve the local issue, he is in favor of keeping us open,” Moody said.

The council in 2003 approved the bar ban at a time when a string of new clubs were opening along Jefferson Street downtown, 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.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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