Beatrice’s Mercantile Building at 310 Court Street may soon become Nebraska’s first indoor entertainment district.
Entertainment districts refer to a common area where eating and drinking are allowed, such as the Railyard in Lincoln, and the Aksarben Village and Capitol District in Omaha.
The Mercantile Building currently houses Stone Hollow Brewery, Smoke and Fire Cigars and a boutique called The Gorgeous Hanger. Current zoning ordinances only allow alcoholic beverages in the brewery, meaning patrons can’t carry their drinks while looking at the other stores.
City Attorney Abby Stark said a solution to this would be to have the building, owned by Hydo Properties, apply to be an entertainment district. Stark and City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer would then tour the building and decide what locations are considered the commons area, such as the hallways, shared bathrooms and outdoor patio.
The City Council would then have to approve the entertainment district application, at which point the stores within the building would apply for an entertainment district license.
“Once they have the entertainment district license - which is in addition to their underlying liquor license that they already have - then they can sell alcohol where people can go meander around the commons area,” Stark said. “If there’s two businesses within the entertainment district that both have the entertainment district license, they can let everyone co-mingle. They don’t have to, but they can.”
Stark explained that this is different from other Beatrice breweries and restaurants that serve alcohol, because the Mercantile Building involves several businesses.
“They’ve just been having problems down there,” Stark said. “It sounds like people want to walk around and see the rest of the building after they get a beer at the brewery, and it’s kind of a big job to police everyone going in and out. “
Stark said Nebraska requires a prominent logo on cups in entertainment districts that shows where the alcohol was purchased from. Additional regulations can be enacted by the council, as well.
Mayor Stan Wirth said the entertainment district could be discussed as an ordinance by the next council meeting.