Local bar owner lashes out at city council

Donelle Pardee Whiting

Christy Webb is not a happy business owner.

Webb, owner of Christy’s Place, 1221 Washington Road in Washington, addressed city council members during their regular meeting Monday night.

Webb said she is upset because she is losing money by not being able to utilize her new beer garden.

Webb’s liquor license was set to expire April 30. When paying the $1,000 fee to renew it, she included $100 for a new J license.

The J license would allow her to operate a beer garden in addition to her regular bar business.

According to a J license, bar owners can have a beer garden where patrons could enjoy their beverages outside.

However, alcohol cannot be sold outside. Beverages must be purchased inside the business.

Because of the state’s smoking ban, which stipulates that it is illegal to smoke in any public building, the city currently has a draft ordinance addressing beer gardens and the smoking issue.

The sticking point is because “places of employment” is part of the wording in the state smoking ban.

City administrator said it is unclear whether beer gardens fall under the classification of a place of employment.

Council members discussed the draft regulating beer gardens during the council’s February committee of the whole meeting.

Several of Washington’s bar owners attended the meeting to get clarification on the new licensing and regulations.

However, the council has not passed the new beer garden ordinance because of the smoking issue.

Morris said he has not received any clear answers from the state in regard to smoking and beer gardens.

Webb said following the February meeting she contacted Morris about building a beer garden at Christy’s Place.

Webb said she was under the impression she would be able to get a J license as long as she did not sell alcohol outside.

As temperatures rose, Webb allowed patrons to take their drinks outside despite not having her J license. She is still waiting for the proper licensing.

Following a discussion with Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker, Webb posted a sign stating no drinks could be taken outside.

Webb said every day she waits for her J license she is losing money.

She added the city is also losing money.

Morris said until the ordinance governing beer gardens is passed no new J licenses will be issued.

He added that he warned against building a beer garden before the ordinance is approved.

Manier said he the new ordinance to be ready for a first reading at the May 5 meeting.

He added that if council members vote to waive the second reading, it could be approved that same night.

Bars with existing beer gardens, such as Kep’s Place Sports Bar & Grill, Katy T’s and Brogy’s will be allowed to continue operating the patios under previous licensing.

In addition to addressing smoking issues, the new ordinance also updates regulations, such as the type of fencing used and visibility inside from a vehicle.