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BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington Liquor Commission will recommend a liquor license, but with limited hours, for a new pizza restaurant proposed at the former Mr. Quick restaurant site at the northeast corner of Washington and Clinton streets.

The three commissioners split their vote Tuesday, with Commissioner Jim Jordan casting a  "no" vote, and Mayor Tari Renner, who heads the panel, and Commissioner Lindsey Powell voting for the Lulu's Pizza and Gaming license with the restriction on hours for at least six months because it will have a video gambling room. The matter advances to the City Council.

MALA LLC requested a restaurant liquor license to sell beer and wine by the glass for consumption on the premises from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. But pizza service would not start until 10 a.m. daily, said co-owners Craig Minor and  Mark Allen.

The City Council in 2013 amended the city's liquor ordinance to prohibit establishments whose primary focus is video gambling. Businesses that do have video gambling must receive more revenue from liquor and food sales than from video gambling.

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In August, the council also approved an ordinance that says no more than 60 establishments can be licensed to have video gambling machines in Bloomington. Five or six of those licenses are still available, said Renner.

"My one question is: Is this a gaming cafe? I am concerned that this is what we're looking at here," said downtown bar owner Jan Lancaster. 

Commissioner Jim Jordan echoed her concerns.

"I've got concerns about having a business open especially three hours before substantial serving of food can be provided and it's strictly a gaming parlor for three hours," said Jordan.

"I am not opposed to a new business at all. That's a good thing," he added "It's been a vacant lot since Mr. Quick ... going back many years. I've got concerns about the fact it's residential ... to the east with a few exceptions tucked in."

As a compromise Renner suggested restricting the hours of operation from 10 a.m. to midnight, and if there are no violations the owners could come back to the commission to have the restriction lifted.

The city's planning commission must still approve a review of the site plan for the new business before the council considers final approval of the liquor license.

MALA LLC operates a Lulu's Pizza in Decatur and Lindy Lu's gaming parlors in Decatur and Urbana. The company also has operated all of the Speed Lube Oil Change shops in Bloomington, including one at 701 E. Washington St., which is across Clinton Street from the proposed pizza restaurant.

The Mr. Quick restaurant closed in 2001 and the city of Bloomington later bought the site and razed the building so it could widen the intersection. The Lulu's owners own the vacant site now, according to McLean County and city records.

The commission unanimously approved recommending an entertainment liquor license for the new Amazing Space Banquet Hall to sell all types of alcohol by the glass for consumption on the premises, seven days a week.

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Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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