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Restaurant seeks extra hour to serve
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A local restaurant owner has requested the Springfield City Council extend hours of alcohol sales by one hour Monday through Friday.

Walter Keith of Kelly’s Tavern in Springfield is asking to be able to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. on Friday nights. Currently, sales must stop at midnight. He also had asked for a similar change for Saturday night as well but realized that would create sales on Sunday and withdrew that portion of the request.

Council member Kenny Usher said he thought the ordinance did not require the restaurant to close at the end of selling hours.
“I believe the way that ordinance is worded, you don’t have to close — you can buy your last drink, and then I think it’s an hour later to consume,” Usher said.

Keith said the problem is the madhouse of people trying to purchase drinks to have for the final hour the establishment is open.

“We’ve had it where people get a little gluttonous. They want all these drinks, and I don’t want to put that pressure on someone that they bought these drinks and they have to drink them in an hour,” he said.

City Manager Brett Bennett said he believed the intent of the ordinance was to allow people time to consume their drinks without being rushed. The ordinance currently states that sales of alcohol can take place from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with on premises consumption allowed until midnight. Sales for Friday and Saturday are allowed from 11 a.m.-midnight with on premises consumption permissible until 1 a.m.

“He’s asking to extend Friday night until 1 a.m.,” Bennett said. “I would say that council would have to extend that consumption until 2 a.m. or just stop everything at 1 a.m.”

Usher said he was not sure about the change.

“We developed this ordinance with a lot of trust in the community behind us, and it was to enhance a restaurant establishment,” he said. “And we’re borderline becoming more of a bar situation at that time of night. I was one of the biggest proponents of this, and I’m happy to see it pass — but I think we’re probably pushing the limits on what the trust in the citizens put to us to develop this, and I’m inclined to keep the hours what they are.”

Council member Troy Allen said currently the people in the restaurant can drink at that time. Keith said consumption would be the same — he’s trying to avoid final call rush.

“We’re going on three years down there now, and knock on wood, I think things have gone rather well as far as police involvement or any types of issues whatsoever,” he said.

Keith said he would be willing to do the extended serving to 1 a.m. on a six-month trial basis.

“If there’s issues, I’ll come back in and say, ‘it’s just not working out,’” he said.

Keith added that Kelly’s Tavern has entertainment on some Friday nights and that does not start until 9:30 or 10 p.m.

“It’s costing us several hundred dollars to have people come in there and play and you’re telling everyone they have to stop drinking at 12 o’clock and out the door at 1 o’clock,” he said. “People are like, ‘we’re just starting to have a good time, and we’ve got to go.’

“I just wanted to try the Friday night thing, and bump it up an hour see how it goes, and if it becomes a problem put it back the way it was.”

Bennett clarified that the restaurant would still close at 1 a.m.

Council member Butch Kieffer said he did not approve of the original request that included Saturday nights, but with the request to sell until 1 a.m. only being for Friday nights, he did not have a problem.

Council member Jeff Ambrose said he was under the impression that the ordinance only allowed sales until 11 p.m. and consumption until midnight on Saturdays.

Mayor Barton Alderman asked if Keith still wanted to extend sales during the week until midnight.

“If we can move that to midnight that would be fine. I don’t want to push it,” Keith said. “If we could do Monday through Thursday until midnight, Friday to 1 (a.m.) and Saturday midnight that would be super, and put it on a trial basis.”