Iowa City bar first to be granted split venue exemption - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City bar first to be granted split venue exemption

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The Iowa City community's effort to curb binge drinking among college students has been well-documented.

The most significant measure- the 21 ordinance- was implemented by the city in 2010, making it illegal for those younger than 21 to be in bars after 10 P.M.

Now one bar owner is offering an alcohol-free option for those who are underage.

Tom Lenoch, owner of The Library Nightclub, sees opportunity in a city exemption that no one else has yet taken advantage of.

"The step logically of taking alcohol out wasn't that big to me," Lenoch said.

Under the city's split venue exemption, Lenoch can once again cater his late night business to all UI students.

Lenoch has divided his bar into two sections with two separate entrances.

One serves alcohol to those 21 and up, and the other is alcohol free, providing music, live entertainment, and dancing to the under 21 crowd.

Lenoch says going split venue was more than just a business decision.

"I do want to do this because I think it gives them a chance, a place to go, and help maybe a little bit change the culture," he said.

The bar has strict standards in place to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.

Staff require two forms of identification and will have entrances to the area serving alcohol heavily guarded.

The idea has even received support university officials as a positive alternative to alcohol consumption, but the big unknown is whether or not students idea will receive any support from students.

"I don't know if enough people will go under 21 just to dance," UI senior Grant Prieb said.

"I think it's a good idea.  Otherwise they just have their house parties which will always be big so this is just adding something different," said UI junior Amanda York.

Is a split venue bar viable?  That picture will become a little clearer with Lenoch piloting the idea this weekend.

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