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Bar owners complain to lawmakers after commingling ordinance expires

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Some downtown bar owners are claiming they're losing thousands of dollars with the end to a commingling ordinance experiment. 

Eighteen to 20 year olds were allowed, over the last six months, to attend bars along the Chippewa strip every Thursday night.  That ruled hit its sunset last Thursday. 

Ellicott District Common Council member Darius Pridgen, who sponsored the ordinance, spoke out at a Common Council committee meeting Tuesday. 

Pridgen said during the last six months, as the commingling rule remained in place, no one came forward to request an extension before it expired.

"Not one business, not one restaurant, not one bar, not one parking ramp...nobody came to this council," said Pridgen. 

"It was not until after the sunset that we found out, through the media, that there were those who first of all were planning to go around the legislation by putting dancers on the stage in one establishment so 18, 19 and 20-year olds could come into their establishment after hours," noted Pridgen.

Some bar owners are claim they've lost about $20,000 per club without commingling and are demanding the council restore the ordinance.      

"If I was losing $20,000 per club, per night, I would have been in this council," said Pridgen. 

Masten District lawmaker Demone Smith agreed with his colleague.

"That would be the proper business model, to advocate things before they expire so you have a smooth transition, because I don't thing anybody here had a problem with it," said Smith.

If bar owners would like to host the underage at their clubs then can still apply for a special event. But Pridgen stressed it is only an exemption for a special night, not for a weekly commingling evening.