New license allows bars, restaurants to expand; limited city resources mean taking turns

New SDL allows bars, restaurants to expand onto the street; but with limited city resources,...
New SDL allows bars, restaurants to expand onto the street; but with limited city resources, three main areas will have to take turns(Madison Pitsch)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 9:18 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Nebraska football is a little over a week away from the game, and 15 days from their home opener against Wisconsin. The season will have a different feel, with no fans in the stands. Now businesses across the area are finding new ways to accommodate fans.

This year, during home games three main areas will get a Special Designated Licenses, or SDLs. These licenses allow them to serve alcohol outside of the footprint of their building. But due to limited city resources, these three places will be on a rotating schedule.

“We’re a music venue. It’s really impacted our revenues, we’re down 90%, over 90%," said Scott Hatfield, owner of Duffy’s Tavern. "It’s been really unbelievable. It’s been a very difficult time”

The changes to the SDL requirements allow the Haymarket, Canopy Street, and 14th Street between “O” and “P” to serve alcohol outside their buildings. It’s similar to the city’s dine-out plan that has been in place.

“We know that when people are outside, they’re safer than in enclosed, confined indoor spaces, so we’re trying our best to support safe activity on these game days,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.

But with an SDL comes two main requirements; that you have off-duty police and traffic control. Due to limited resources, these three main areas will have to alternate weekly.

“We don’t have an infinite supply of off-duty officers," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "That said, we’re working to create a fair process to apply for that support.”

“The idea was to mitigate risk for us, for me, for my staff and for my customers," said Hatfield. "I thought that was the idea behind the city council’s decision to allow this. To allow it in one neighborhood, but not allow it six or so blocks away seems odd.”

The timing of the rotation, Hatfield said, isn’t great either.

“It looks like they’re going to offer that to the venues in the Haymarket, but not offer it to the venues on 14th St. on Halloween, which is extremely disappointing,” said Hatfield. Halloween is one of the busiest nights before the weather starts getting colder.

Hatfield is uncertain whether the rotation will help make up their 90 percent drop in income.

“We are not on the first two weeks," said Hatfield. "We’re on the third week. It’s not the city’s job to pick winners and losers on this deal. We need a place to put people, we need a place to put people safely.”

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