Jazz club waiting for liquor license approval

By WEEK Producer

September 23, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 4:26 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A proposed change in liquor licenses could trumpet the establishment of a jazz club in downtown Bloomington.

City officials are weighing a proposal that -- among other things -- would offer licenses to new types of venues.

But, a decision can not come fast enough for one Bloomington businessman.

In Jazz, the letters "T" and "R" could refer to tempo and rhythm, but when it comes to James Gaston's proposal for a Jazz club, it's Tavern or Restaurant.

"This would be still be part of the bar area, and this is where a waiter station would be," explained Gaston.

A longtime Jazz Promoter, Gaston's plan for Gat's Jazz Café is being muted at City Hall. Although he has twice been approved by the liquor commission, the Bloomington City Council has rejected his liquor license application.

"There's still some skepticism as to whether it's gonna be a Jazz Club or whether I'm gonna get a liquor license and switch on 'em and you know turn it into some big scary club with a bunch of hooligans down here causing problems," said Gaston.

"There are some issues downtown," said Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton. "There's no doubt that especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, it's a very busy place--there's noise, litter. So, the downtown residents have said 'try to fix this for us' and they're not enthused about adding more places down there."

Mayor Steve Stockton---who supports Gaston's plan-- thinks he has a solution: Change the liquor license classification. Instead of T and R, Tavern and Restaurant, make it E and Q, Entertainment and a Qualified Restaurant.

"There's nothing really in between. More and more, we're seeing places pop up around Bloomington like Comedy clubs and a proposal for Gat's Jazz Cafe' that are more specialized," said Stockton.

And while the council is expected to take another month to weigh the Mayor's idea, James Gaston waits to open.

"I've got people on hold. I've got employees that wanna go to work. I wanna go to work. We wanna make something happen," said Gaston. "And so, I would have liked for it to happen five months ago, but I'm standing here going on six months and I'm talking to you about about why I'm not open."

A businessman doing his best to keep time.

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