MORROW — Morrow City Council voted Tuesday night to allow AMC Theaters to serve alcohol at its Southlake location after at least three months of deliberation.
Concern that the alcohol served at the MacGuffins Bar opening in the lobby of the theater’s Southlake location could end up in the hands of minors seemed to drive most of the council’s decisions.
In fact, the actual wording of the original ordinance was changed to protect youths. The ordinance council first considered requested the city allow all indoor entertainment centers to serve alcohol. But the council changed the wording to pertain only to AMC Theater after Councilwoman Jeanell Bridges said she was concerned it would be irresponsible to allow any indoor entertainment center to serve alcohol.
Mayor J.B. Burke later said the ordinance was worded to be so exclusive as another measure of protecting Morrow’s children.
“We wanted to be comprehensive with that ordinance change, but some concern came up,” he said. “I think we were all thinking in the back of our heads about a paintball place catered toward children. We certainly don’t want indoor alcohol in a place for children.”
Not everybody was completely happy with the change. Former Councilman Bob Huie said during the public comment section after voting that he agreed with Bridges’ and Burke’s concerns about underage drinking, but felt it wasn’t a good idea to vote on an ordinance pertaining to only one company.
“You passed an ordinance tonight for one business — AMC Theaters,” he said. “I think it should have been for movie theaters.”
Burke said the council members will approve requests of any other indoor entertainment centers — such as bowling alleys or other theaters — individually so they can make sure children aren’t at risk in each case.
Even the design of the theater will ensure minors stay away from the alcohol.
AMC will be allowed to install a MacGuffins Bar in the theater, but it will need to be separated from the rest of the lobby by a rail. Burke said the rail has been an important component of the negotiations from the beginning.
“In the very first presentation and in every presentation since [AMC has] insisted themselves that the area of the beer and wine sales be separate,” he said. “It was a request of one of the council members to have the railing and the rest of council and AMC agreed that was a good idea.”
The theater will need to sell 60 percent food and no more than 40 percent alcohol.
Burke said he wasn’t sure when AMC would start selling alcohol at its Southlake location, but he feels confident the business will succeed in bringing more revenue to Morrow.
“They’re being very methodical in their process to do it right,” he said. “I find it very impressive they’re being as methodical as they are. And they weren’t reinventing the wheel. They have already tested this out in other cities and it has worked very well.”
Clayton News Daily was unable to reach a representative from AMC for comment as of press time.