East Lansing Considering Moratorium on Restaurants Serving Alcohol Past Midnight

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

Walk down any street in East Lansing and you'll run into all types of restaurants. Some focus more on food and others, more on alcohol. Both are money-makers at Buffalo Wild Wings.

"Obviously, the later you get, people are drinking more," said General Manager Aaron Weiner.

Throw in plenty of other bars and these streets fill up quickly into the early-morning hours with people looking for a drink. It begs the question, how much is too much?

It's a question the city was hoping to answer when it put a 180-day ban on the approval of new Downtown restaurants serving alcohol past midnight, back in March.

The focus was to figure out a way to keep overall capacity at a safe level, which city Manager George Lahanas is hoping a series of recommendations to city council will solve.

"The principle is that if council approves what we're asking that there will be no more establishments beyond midnight that add to that number," said Lahanas.

The recommendations would cap the total capacity of restaurants that serve alcohol past midnight at a little more than 3,000. They would also more strictly enforce a 50-50 food to alcohol sales ratio. The hope is easier overall enforcement for police.

"When younger people drink, it's been my experience that fights start, there's malicious destruction of property...", said East Lansing Police Capt. Jeff Murphy.

According to city records, last year, there were more than 754 fights and assaults in the downtown area alone, which is up from 662 in 2008. While East Lansing Police say that number is certainly manageable, the recommendations will keep things from getting out of hand.

"That's a real small percentage that happens to, but that small percentage takes up a lot of our resources," said Murphy.

The East Lansing City Council is beginning discussion of the recommendations at its Work Session, Tuesday night. Lahanas hopes to have new rules in place by August.

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