DANVILLE — After a second request from The Big Easy Cajun restaurant and bar for the city to allow additional video gaming licenses for restaurants, Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and several aldermen support the request.
Williams read a public comment at Tuesday night’s Danville City Council meeting submitted by Cherre Scheffer, owner of The Big Easy, and also its property owners Dan Smalley, Jill Byerly and Jack and Judith Byerly.
The business, in the former Knights of Columbus at 310 Bryan Ave., will be celebrating its one-year anniversary this month and has received its state video gaming license.
They said they didn’t initially realize there wasn’t an available city video gaming license. They are now on Danville’s video gaming license waiting list along with a gas station and a package liquor establishment.
They request the city change how gaming licenses are allotted and they believe the type of business should be taken into consideration.
“We believe we are the only restaurant/bar/banquet facility in the city without a gaming license and we just want the opportunity to serve our customers well, provide what they want and be competitive in our local market,” they stated.
They said the only way they can continue to compete in this market is if they are on a level playing field with other similar businesses.
They said local residents and visitors from outside the area are coming to the restaurant to eat and drink and for music and comedy shows.
Gaming revenue would allow the business to hire more employees and bring more experiences to customers.
They ask city officials to consider changing the method it allots gaming licenses for Class R restaurants, as they do for the liquor license classifications.
After reading their comments, Williams told the aldermen he knows the council has discussed increasing video gaming licenses and they don’t want video gaming parlors on every corner.
“I know that we don’t want them everywhere,” he said, such as in gas stations. “I think it would behoove us to consider maybe creating classifications of gaming licenses like we do have for our liquor licenses.”
This would allow restaurants or bars to have a gaming license opportunity if they so choose, Williams said.
Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr said, “I agree 100 percent that we need to have some classifications. I don’t want them on every corner either. I mean there’s some cities that have then in flower shops, they have them in laundromats and different things. But I think we could probably reclassify some of those licenses to where if it’s a bar only, or if it’s a bar/restaurant, to add a few more.
“I was never in favor of the gas stations having them,” Puhr added. “When we have businesses that are struggling, I think we could classify a few more for specific purposes. That might be a good thing to do.”
Aldermen Eve Ludwig, Rick Strebing, Tricia Teague and James Poshard also voiced their support. Teague thinks restaurants should be given preferential treatment for gaming licenses.
Williams said the city has 30 licenses which are all currently in use, and The Big Easy is the only restaurant liquor license classification currently waiting. There also are other new restaurants in the works, he added.
Williams thinks it’d be better for the city to only consider restaurants and bars classifications for additional video gaming licenses.
He said the city administration should be able to bring back an ordinance change to allow for additional video gaming licenses for aldermen to act on, within the next couple weeks and at the latest by the beginning of March.
In other discussions, city officials said they’re looking at options on opt-in message alerts, such as an app or text notification alert software, to alert residents of city service news and changes such as with the solid waste collection schedule.
City officials also said city utility bills were sent to the post office earlier this week and will be on a different billing cycle now for residential customers. Residents also can sign up for email billing.