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Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner suggested looking at changing liquor regulations to allow more sidewalk cafes in downtown Bloomington in hopes of creating what he called a livelier, more walkable atmosphere.

BLOOMINGTON — More outdoor sidewalk cafe space could come to downtown Bloomington if Mayor Tari Renner and the City Council pursue changing city ordinances.

Renner raised the possibility during a meeting Tuesday of the city's liquor commission, which he heads.

Renner asked longtime downtown restaurant and bar owner Jan Lancaster to address the commissioners on the subject.

"Several of the restaurant and bar owners downtown are wanting the opportunity to put a couple of tables out in front of their businesses," said Lancaster, owner of The Bistro, 316 N. Main St.

"It's not as if we want people to go clogging up our downtown sidewalks, but just try to create a more lively atmosphere and have a walkable, thriving and vibrant downtown," added Renner.

Renner said the city's current outdoor liquor license is more restrictive.

It authorizes the retail sale of liquor upon a sidewalk in a designated, roped-off area adjacent to a restaurant up to midnight seven days a week.

"I will have to talk to the council about this, but we might close it down at 10 (p.m.), but maybe be a little more lenient about not requiring the space being roped off," Renner said. "Certainly, we do see that in Champaign and in Normal."

Normal stops its outdoor cafe liquor service at 10 p.m., said Lancaster.

She said she thinks it would be a nice addition to Bloomington's downtown.

"Hopefully, this would bring in a more mature crowd who want to walk their dogs downtown and then sit down and have a glass of wine or beer outside," said Lancaster.

In recent years the city has sought to curb the sometimes raucous downtown bar scene dominated by area college students.

"This would be a different type of scene," said Renner. "This isn't in the eye of the hurricane when college students are coming downtown. We're talking about people who are going to be sitting down and eating at cafes and who are probably in the 30-, 40-, 50-somethings crowd.

"There usually aren't too many raving crazy middle-aged people roaming downtown," Renner added.

In other business, the commission recommended a liquor license allowing service of beer and wine by the glass until 10 p.m. seven days a week at Windy City Wieners, 116 W. Washignton St.

It also endorsed a liquor license allowing the sale of all types of alcohol by the glass seven days a week at Flingers Pizza Pub, which closed its downtown location and is reopening at the former Bagelmen's/Denny's Doughnuts location at 1503 E. Vernon Ave.

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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