Dancing restricted at Main Street bars
MANAGING NEWS EDITOR span>
Each weekend students stand in long lines to get into Klondike Kate’s, one of the few bars on Main Street where students are free to dance.
According to Newark municipal code, “live night club or floor show type entertainment” that encourages dancing within an establishment is banned. In short, dance floors are not allowed on Main Street.
Maureen Feeney Roser, director of Planning and Development for the city, said the only restaurants that allow dancing currently present on Main Street are those that were grandfathered in under previous zoning code provisions.
That’s how Kate’s managed to get around the restriction, she said.
Brett Podolak, a manager who has worked at Kate’s for four years, said the restaurant has been in operation for about 40 years. He said they have a great relationship with the city of Newark, the police department and the branch of law enforcement that monitors alcohol consumption.
The restaurant features a D.J. upstairs with an open layout where patrons can dance, sing and mingle.
“We have a floor plan that we stick to during the night and during the day,” Podolak said. “Those two floorplans are different…and that layout had to be approved by the city.”
Apparently, only bar-type establishments can allow dancing on the premises. Roser said if a restaurant is interested in adding a dance floor, the owner would have to request that Council amend their code so they can be considered a bar.
Although establishments like Arena’s Deli and Bar has the space to house a dance floor, it is not allowed. General manager Lindsey Pollard could not speak with The Review as she had lost her voice from the flu. However, commenting via text message, she said the restaurant’s liquor license prohibits dancing.
“We joke that the rules are like the movie ‘Footloose,’” she said. “But we do enforce the rule.”
The rules governing Main Street establishments are generally made to protect patrons, she continued, so she does not think they are unfair or unnecessary. Arena’s hosts open mic nights usually featuring a solo guitarist or duo act. According to municipal code, this is acceptable as long as it does not promote dancing and is intended as “accessory or background music.”
Apart from dancing restrictions, Main Street establishments must abide by numerous other regulations to operate in the sought after location.
There are 57 restaurants in downtown Newark, Roser said. Twenty-five of these restaurants have liquor licenses. Establishments that sell alcoholic beverages for consumption are required to halt sales of alcohol at 12:00 a.m., unless they are granted a special permit authorizing sales after the curfew.
There are also rules and regulations that govern restaurants that feature sidewalk patios. Although it may seem like the employees at Grotto Pizza are playing buzzkill when they stop students from going out to the patio, they are just abiding by city regulation. Patron overflow onto the sidewalks and street is banned.
Patios may not exceed 1,000 square feet and food and beverages can only be served to seated patrons, according to municipal code.
Because restaurants come and go in Newark, it is not possible to point to a specific set of regulations that apply to all alcohol-serving establishments, Roser said. Each establishment has to be looked at individually to determine which regulations are applicable.
The City of Newark Code Enforcement and the Fire Marshal enforce these codes in the city.