Downtown Lafayette’s fate could change today

A Lafayette Consolidated Government sign posted outside of Artmosphere Bistro alerts the community that the property is being considered for rezoning or a variance. (Photo: Megan Wyatt, The Advertiser)

The fate of downtown Lafayette could change if the Lafayette city-parish council agrees to look into long-term solutions for Artmosphere Bistro.

Going before the city-parish council today is a resolution asking the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to delay its October audit of Artmosphere’s food and alcohol sales.

“The delay would allow for additional time to research the effect on downtown’s ability to have a vibrant, orderly nightlife that promotes the economic well-being of downtown, its businesses and its residents,” the resolution says.

If the council adopts the resolution, Artmosphere will likely be granted yet another extension by ATC commissioner Troy Hebert.

Hebert has said multiple times that he would issue Artmosphere owner Beryl “Berry” Kemp Moody a state bar permit if she could legally obtain a local bar permit.

Moody hasn’t been able to obtain a local bar permit since opening Artmosphere in 2003 because of two city laws: one that prohibits new bar permits on downtown properties that previously did not hold bar permits and another that prohibits bar permits for properties located near a school or church.

Moody instead operates Artmosphere with a restaurant permit, which requires that at least half of her sales come from food.

Despite revamping Artmosphere’s menu, renovating the kitchen and hiring new staff, Moody still struggles to sell more food than alcohol.

She’s desperately sought out other solutions.

Moody recently drafted a new live music permit that would allow more leniency than a restaurant permit but not as much as a bar permit. She also requested for Artmosphere to be rezoned so that it is not part of the downtown district.

Instead of voting for or against Artmosphere’s rezoning, however, the zoning commission agreed unanimously to work with the city-parish council, which brings us back to the resolution going before the council at the regular 5:30 p.m. meeting.

According to the zoning commission, the resolution would prove to the state that local leaders are working on long-term solutions for Artmosphere.

And ultimately, any long-term, local solution for Artmosphere could lead to a change in the laws that limit what can and can’t open downtown.

Check back for more on this story later today.

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