East Lansing May Suspend 50/50 Rule

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It's a rule many restaurants and bars have complied with for years. East Lansing's 50/50 rule, implemented in the 1980s, requires businesses to prove no more than 50% of their revenue come from the sale of alcoholic drinks.

Stateside Deli and Grill in Downtown East Lansing is about to expand to include a bar. Owner Spencer Soka says he only heard about the rule while applying for the liquor license and admits it'll be an extra burden.

"We're trying to keep a business running successfully in a city where there's so much competition. On top of it, I got to deal with me sharing my information with someone from the city," said Soka.

However, city council is considering suspending it. Some council members agree it puts the city at a disadvantage compared to other communities and Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett says city staff members spend too much time enforcing a rule he thinks is outdated.

"Is this rule effective and what the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) has suggested and what I believe is that it's not effective in dealing with this issue of problem consumption," Triplett said.

Others believe 50/50 has worked in setting standards and worry there are no suitable replacements should it go away.

"50/50 came in back in the 80s to try to get a handle on what was a pretty wild bar scene downtown. My fear is that we would regress, we would backslide back to that," said East Lansing Councilmember Kevin Beard.

As city council continues to debate, Soka says he will 100% comply and try to do the best for his business in a very competitive market.

The East Lansing City Council is expected to further discuss and potentially vote on whether or not to suspend the rule till the end of 2013 at next Tuesday's city council meeting. According to Mayor Pro Tem Triplett, suspending it would give the city a chance to study its effect on the community.

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