Bars get council’s go-ahead

By Dave Gomez

Five members of the DeKalb City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a request by local Class A liquor license holders to open an hour early Saturday morning for Homecoming.

Bars with Class A liquor licenses will be able to open at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Early opening has not been a problem in past years, said Mayor Greg Sparrow, who also acts as the city’s liquor commissioner.

Normally, a bar with a Class A license could not even have people on the premises before 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning unless they were the owner or in the course of employment, Sparrow said.

Bars with Class E liquor licenses, such as The Barn, 1215 Blackhawk Road, are able to keep their restaurants open 24 hours a day, said City Clerk Donna Johnson, but are still restricted to serving alcohol at the permitted times.

Third Ward Alderman Steve Kapitan said he supported the early opening as a way to “get some food in people’s stomachs” after long hours of partying.

Although no bar owners were present, Sparrow said the decision to hold a meeting was likely reason enough for them to believe the request would be granted.

Local bar employees have varying opinions on the earlier opening hours.

“I think it’s probably a little bit safer for everybody,” said Chris Humphrey, general manager of Molly’s, 1022 W. Lincoln Highway, and Bar One, 1000 W. Lincoln Highway.

“To wait until six in the morning encourages people to stay up an extra hour and keep drinking,” he said. “This way people can go out [and] respect the tradition.”

This year’s Homecoming will be the tenth for Humphrey, who says he expects business to be as busy as usual.

“We go through a tremendous amount of food,” he said.

Others thought a later starting time would be safer.

A later opening time will give students more time to rest in the morning, said Eric Skogen, manager for Fatty’s, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, which will open at 8 a.m.

Skogen said the Homecoming game’s start time could affect how busy the bars get.

The 2003 Homecoming game started later in the afternoon, which meant business was slower for the bar, Skogen said. But for the 2002 game, tailgating started at 9 a.m., which resulted in over a hundred people lining up outside the bar.

This year, tailgating does not begin until noon, three hours prior to the 3:05 p.m. game.