Reactions mixed to E.L. 50/50 ordinance

During a December 2012 meeting, the East Lansing City Council voted 3-2 to keep a rule requiring restaurants subject to the 50/50 ordinance to report their sales every 90 days intact.

But some East Lansing businesses are unsatisfied with the decision and some city officials doubt its effectiveness to control overconsumption of alcohol. The rule requires no more than half a restaurant’s sales to come from alcohol.

Crunchy’s general manager Mike Krueger said the rule is a pain and there is no reason to have it.
“(It’s) not fairly enforced across the board,” he said.

East Lansing officials banned the sale of alcohol in restaurants until 1968.

The rule was put into place in the late 1980s, when the city was struggling with restaurants having alcohol-related problems. Between 1984 and 1989, the policy allowing restaurants to sell alcohol was changed three times.

Any restaurant in existence before the 50/50 rule was established does not have to abide by the rule, as it has been “grandfathered” in. Restaurants with this status include Rick’s American Cafe, 224 Abbot Rd., The Peanut Barrel Restaurant, 521 E. Grand River Ave., and The Riv, 231 M.A.C. Ave.

Eric Allchin, general manager of Dublin Square Irish Pub, 327 Abbot Rd., said it’s hard being a 50/50 restaurant. He has had to lower his alcohol prices and raise his food prices to comply with rules.

He said the rule keeps full-on bars from coming to East Lansing and it holds everyone to a standard — something he considers a plus.

Community and Economic Development Administrator Lori Mullins said the rule was meant to control overconsumption of alcohol and attract quality restaurants, but it’s unclear whether either have been accomplished.

“We’ve had interest from people who said they’ve wanted to open a place where they could have shows, performances, and they would just like to serve beer and wine,” Mullins said. “That wouldn’t be allowed because that wouldn’t fall under our definition of a restaurant.”

Councilmember Kevin Beard, who voted to keep the reporting requirement, said he didn’t think the requirement is burdensome, but added it’s not perfect.

“If there is a problem here, it’s with our underlying definition of a restaurant,” he said.

Beard said council should revisit the 50/50 rule, although in a previous interview East Lansing Mayor Diane Goddeeris said that likely won’t happen anytime soon.

“We’re going to have to quantify this more than it has been,” Beard said.

Joe Bell, owner of the The Peanut Barrel, said debates about the rule should continue.
“I think that it is a law that is worth continued discussion,” he said . “It has its good points and its bad (points.)”

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