The 4th Quarter Bar and Grill sits on the corner of College Street and 23rd Street, nestled in a neighborhood of homes that survived an F3 tornado in November 2003. The local eatery, which is located on the grounds of a former car wash, will soon be looking to have its status rezoned from a restaurant to a nightclub, bar, tavern or lounge. The owner of the business, Donald Pope of Columbus, is scheduled to bring his request before the City of Columbus Planning Commission on March 5. But Pope may be fighting an uphill battle, according to building official Kenneth Wiegel.
“The 4th Quarter is located in a C-1 neighborhood, which does not allow nightclubs, bars, taverns or lounges,” Wiegel said. “It is permitted as a restaurant only. This has nothing to do with beer or alcohol permits — my office has nothing to do with that. My office inspected the building and approved it as a restaurant only because it is in a C-1 district. However, (Pope) can appear before the planning commission and ask that his business be rezoned. The planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council who will then vote on the issue. Although the council certainly has the last say on the matter, the board usually goes along with what the planning commission recommends.”
Wiegel said in order for a business to receive status as a nightclub, bar, tavern or lounge it must meet certain requirements set forth by the city’s building and zoning codes.
“The parking ratio has to be higher for bars, and the restroom facilities have to meet different standards as well,” he said. “I will have to point out to the planning commission that the 4th Quarter currently does not meet these requirements.”
Pope declined to comment when contacted by phone Thursday.
When asked what distinguished a restaurant from a nightclub or bar, Wiegel said common sense is a factor.
“We can’t prevent a restaurant from obtaining a liquor license or a beer permit,” he said. “The 4th Quarter has a small bar inside where patrons can order a drink. Several restaurants in Columbus have these types of facilities. But I don’t know of any restaurant that charges a cover charge, has live entertainment, dancing or a DJ. It’s when a restaurant has different activities from day to night. I’m not saying (Pope) is presently doing any of these things. But there is a difference in having a permit for a restaurant and one for a bar or nightclub.”
In a letter received from Pope, Wiegel said the business owner attributed declining sales and foot traffic among his reasons for the hearing request. Wiegel said Pope was hoping to have occasional live entertainment, karaoke and poetry readings.
Alleged inadequate parking and restrooms may not be the only hurdle in Pope’s way.
The restaurant is located in Ward 1 and the ward’s councilman, Gene Taylor, said he is opposed to the rezoning.
The city council will vote on Pope’s request Tuesday, March 20.