The Mercantile Building in downtown Beatrice is getting a new, less visible tenant later this year.
The Mechanical Room will sell alcohol in northwest corner of the basement in the building at 301 Court St., under what is currently Stone Hollow Brewing Company.
The new bar will take a different approach than the brewery, which has large windows viewing Court Street and exposed brewing equipment.
Todd and Soni Hydo own the Mechanical Room as well as the Mercantile Building and have a stake in Stone Hollow.
At Monday’s City Council Meeting where a liquor license was green lit by the council, Todd Hydo discussed what will set the basement bar apart.
“This is kind of phase two of the mercantile building,” he said. “This is going to be a high end cocktail lounge, so no beer, but all mixed drinks. What makes it a little unique is it’s going to be a prohibition style.”
Details were scarce of what the business will look like, and Hydo added he wants people to be surprised by what they see when first visiting The Mechanical Room.
The business’s liquor license application anticipates an opening date in early September, with hours of 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Also on Monday the council took steps to make it easier – or at least cheaper – for businesses in the building to become part of the entertainment district.
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In June, the council took steps to declare the building an entertainment district, which refers 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. Previous zoning ordinances only allowed alcoholic beverages in the brewery, meaning patrons couldn’t carry their drinks while looking at the other stores.
Businesses within the Mercantile Building can now apply for an entertainment district license, allowing patrons to walk throughout the building with their alcoholic beverages.
After approving the designation last month, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said some business owners expressed concerns at the number of fees to join the district.
“While walking through exactly how that process would work, we realized for the cigar shop or other places, the amount of fees that they would incur as a result of trying to get an entertainment district,” he said. “…By the time you got done it ended up being about $1,600.”
City fees, state fees and the cost of getting a liquor license all contributed to the $1,600 figure, prompting city officials to reduce one Beatrice fee of $600.
“The reason we picked the $600 for an entertainment district license in the first place was because the state charges $300 and state statute allows us to charge up to double what the state does,” Tempelmeyer said. “That’s why we picked $600.”
The council unanimously voted to reduce the city fee to match the state fee.