Failure to comply with liquor license loophole closes bars - KCTV5

Failure to comply with liquor license loophole temporarily closes 2 Westport bars

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Two area bars will be closed for two days next month and it's all because of a liquor license loophole the city is considering changing.

The owner of the Firefly Lounge and Dark Horse Tavern only has to keep a connecting door open between the two bars because they share a liquor license. It's a loophole that allows districts in the Westport area to accommodate more business without violating the city's allowable number of bars in a neighborhood.

When the owner failed to keep the door between the two bars open, he was slapped with a two-day temporary closure that will happen in January.

"All over a doorknob. I mean, are you kidding me?" Bill Nigro said.

Nigro opened Dark Horse Tavern eight years ago and, when he wanted to open a second bar in Westport, he couldn't get a liquor license. The city only allows one bar per 15,000 people and Westport was maxed out.

"If I wanted to have that back room opened, I have to leave the door opened," he said.

The back room Nigro refers to is Firefly, what became his second bar. He opened it through a loophole that allows more than one space to share a liquor license as long as connecting doors stay open.

"No. They are one bar, covered by one liquor license," Gary Majors with the Kansas City, MO, regulated industries said.

Majors said his investigator caught Dark Horse with a closed door a half a dozen times in the past few months.

"At some point we have to be able to tear our place down at the end of the night and decide what's safe for customers. That wasn't safe for customers and we pulled the door shut," Nigro said.

What the bar owner considers an impractical ordinance has led the City Council to consider exempting Westport from the density requirements.

"It won't make this ordinance go away but, in this instance, it would allow Mr. Nigro to apply for a second license and, in that instance, the door should be closed," Majors said.

The public safety committee will take a look at changing the density requirements in Westport as early as February. The city has done it for districts like Zona Rosa and the Downtown Loop to spur business.

Majors said residents would have the right to approve or disapprove new bars if the density ordinance is lifted.

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