By Emily Bell | LSU Student
Since a new ordinance went into effect in East Baton Rouge Parish earlier this month allowing the sale of alcohol by the drink until midnight on Sundays, John Kirkendoll of Kirkendoll Management has brought in an additional day of revenue for one of his "gentlemen's clubs," the Penthouse Club in Baton Rouge.
Kirkendoll cannot say the same for his club across the Mississippi River in West Baton Rouge Parish. The Crazy Horse Cabaret in Port Allen lost approximately $200,000 from Feb. 19 to October of this year, spokesman Timothy Spratt said, due to an ordinance in that parish limiting Sunday alcohol sales.
Last May, the West Baton Rouge Parish Council first approved an ordinance limiting Sunday alcohol sales in incorporated areas of the parish from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Since then, Crazy Horse Cabaret has fought West Baton Rouge Parish over a four-hour loss in Sunday alcohol sales, two hours which Kirkendoll has said are crucial to business.
"If we have to close at 10, we don't have a Sunday," he said. "Sunday never happens."
Crazy Horse Cabaret filed suit against the parish in June 2011, after the new ordinance went into effect, saying the parish failed to obtain the vote of the people. At that time, the parish temporarily suspended the enforcement of the ordinance in order to seek legal counsel, Parish President Riley Berthelot Jr. said.
Crazy Horse Cabaret dropped its suit last year when the parish decided to put the measure on a ballot. The people of West Baton Rouge Parish voted 54 to 46 percent in favor of limiting Sunday alcohol sales on Oct. 22.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Council unanimously passed the ordinance into law and on Feb. 19 of this year the ordinance went into effect, prompting Crazy Horse Cabaret to renew its case against the parish, Spratt said.
"People think of big government being federal government, but it can also be small, municipal bodies as well," he said.
Spratt said the West Baton Rouge Parish ordinance originally was drafted to "curb violence." Several shootings were reported in early 2011 outside of night clubs on Sunday nights. However, he said the parish could have revoked individual liquor licenses in lieu of sweeping changes on hours.
He said East Baton Rouge Parish has been ridding itself of blue laws. Meanwhile, he said West Baton Rouge Parish officials have called themselves "leaders" by limiting Sunday alcohol sales in their parish.
Port Allen has similar laws, City Attorney Victor Woods said. Woods said a 10 p.m. closing time has been enforced in Port Allen as long as he has worked for the city, but that after Crazy Horse Cabaret filed suit against West Baton Rouge Parish he determined it best to bring the matter before the people.
Port Allen residents voted in October 2011 to ratify their Sunday bar hours, Woods said.
Port Allen bar owner Wilson Battley said he originally had no problem with the 10 p.m. closing time, but after the East Baton Rouge Parish ordinance went into effect, his sales on Sunday Nov. 4 dropped by nearly two-thirds.
He asked the Port Allen City Council at a Nov. 7 council meeting to extend bar hours in the city to midnight on Sundays "just to be competitive."
Council member Irvrie Johnson said he, too, is concerned about business in Port Allen and that the council would look into what can be done "through research according to the law."
Woods said any changes to current Sunday alcohol sales in Port Allen would again require the vote of the people. He said the earliest the measure could go on a ballot would be in April.