CWE Arcade Bar Gets Liquor License; Opponents Press On

Alex Degman (@AlexDegmanKMOX)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — A controversial arcade bar slated to open in the Central West End has received its liquor license — but the battle to open isn’t over.

It’s controversial because Liz Heller and other longtime residents don’t think the bar fits into the neighborhood — they contested several signatures Up-Down STL owner Josh Ivey collected, but all objections were overruled.

Ivey had to get documented support from a majority of property owners and business owners within a 300 foot radius of 405 N. Euclid, which is where Up-Down wants to open.

Ivey and his team collected and submitted 119 signatures from “tenant occupants” (businesses) and 58 from residents. Of those, a total of 70 tenant occupant signatures were accepted and 41 from residents. The minimum number required in those categories is 69 and 41, respectively.

Heller objected to some of the accepted signatures — noting several of them were submitted after the deadline. Excise hearing officer Tom Yarbrough overruled that objection, saying he trusts there was a good reason to accept them. Yarbrough overruled every one of Heller’s objections.

“It was my understanding that rules are rules, I’m not quite sure those were followed,” Heller told KMOX.

She and other opponents have 30 days to contest the liquor license — which she says she’ll do. Another opponent, Hannah Roth, questions the whole process.

“People obtain a liquor license first, and then when they have that in hand, then they sign a seven-year lease with the landlord,” Roth told KMOX. Talks of opening Up-Down in this location have been ongoing for months, but the liquor license was just issued Wednesday.

So — does that mean something nefarious is occurring?

“It’s just a mystery. These young people are either, business-wise, extremely naive and they’re not very smart business people, or there was something about this “guarantee” that they would have no problem with a liquor license that we don’t understand.”

Up-Down STL is a concept born in Des Moines and has since expanded to Kansas City and Minneapolis. Ivey once described the concept to KMOX as a “chill” place where people can come to drink a couple of craft beers and play classic video games, he doesn’t want to run an out-of-control bar.

Pete Rothschild runs Red Brick Management, which owns the building. He says Ivey is a good business person and both he and Ivey care about the neighborhood.

“They’ll be making sure about little things … things like making sure the trash isn’t picked up by a trash hauler at 6 a.m. and wake our neighbors up,” he says. “The neighborhood will have to be kept clean, the noise level will have to be kept down.”

The bar will also have an outdoor seating area, but drinks will only be sold inside.

Rothschild says renovations won’t continue until the protest period is over, but with any luck, he hopes Ivey and team will open in three to four months.

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