Harpo's Wants Street for Game Days

6 years 4 months 23 hours ago August 02, 2010 Aug 2, 2010 Monday, August 02 2010 Monday, August 02, 2010 7:42:17 PM CDT in News

COLUMBIA - Harpo's owners say they want to extend business into the streets during Mizzou home football games.

Owner Kevin Fitzpatrick asked the city council to close down a portion of Cherry Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets on gamedays. He also wants the council waive the open container policy which would allow diners to drink on the street.

Fitzpatrick said he thinks this will help his business and the Harpo's tradition.

"Now, a lot of alumni come from St. Louis and Kansas City," said Fitzpatrick. "After the game, they'll come by, see the line is too long and leave... this space will give alumni and others more room and give us more business."

Fitzpatrick said he thinks his extra business will also help other businesses. He said the street-side area will attract more people to downtown. They then could choose to eat at Harpo's or go somewhere else.

However, more than 40 other businesses of Columbia's Special Business District oppose Harpo's proposition.

Julie Rader, the owner of Bengal's Bar and Grill, said it's nothing personal against Harpo's but said the idea is not practical. She said everything Harpo's is doing is legal within the limitations of the city ordinance, but that the city ordinance is vague.

The current ordinance says it will allow road closures for special and unique events in Columbia, but Rader said home football games are not special nor unique enough.

"If there is anything special and unique about their event... cause theirs isn't. They're simply going out into the street to increase their capacity for profit," said Rader.

If the city council approves the request, Rader said she and other restaurants and bar owners in Columbia including Campus Bar and Grill, The Field House, Quinton's Bar and Deli, and other restaurants would immediately file requests for road closures during some football games. She said the approval would be unfair for some businesses, though, because location is key. The Field House, for example, would most likely not be able to close down a road because of it's location on Broadway, said Rader.

Rader also said, if approved, the proposition would create problems for Columbia, for example, choosing which roads to close and when. She said it would also cause public safety concerns and traffic congestion.

To address the concern about underage drinking, Fitzpatrick said Harpo's would put a four-foot tall fence along the permiter and hire eight security guards to make sure no minors entered the area.

The Columbia City Council will vote Monday to approve or deny the request. KOMU talked to five out of the six city council members. One said she would not comment on it because of a conflict of interest. The other four said they plan to oppose the request for various reasons.

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