Eiteljorg, Imax seeking approval to sell liquor

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Adult movie-goers to the downtown Imax theater might be able to grab a drink while catching a flick, if the attraction receives approval to expand liquor sales on its premises.

The theater is among several entities—including the neighboring Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art—seeking permission from county officials to sell liquor.

Both destinations purchased three-way liquor permits for $1,000 each when 101 of them became available in Marion County at an auction in November.

The offering followed a recalculation—using new U.S. census numbers—of how many permits should be distributed in the city. At the same time, the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, which sold the permits, decided to recognize the boundaries of the city of Indianapolis as those areas serviced by the newly consolidated Indianapolis Fire Department.

The Imax, Eiteljorg and some others who purchased the permits are set to have their requests to sell beer, wine and liquor considered by the Marion County Alcoholic Beverage Board on Tuesday morning. The board meets at 9:30 a.m. in Room 260 of the City-County Building.

The Imax, at the Indiana State Museum, now offers beer and wine at special events in which a caterer is used. Having its own liquor permit gives the theater more flexibility to choose what types of alcohol will be served and at what events, said Executive Director Robert Whitt.

“We might do a movie and a martini night, or something like that,” Whitt said. “But we don’t have any plans of having alcohol available for just regular Imax films. It would be more for films that might have an adult demographic.”

The Eiteljorg also hosts special events and fundraisers in which beer and wine are sold. Including liquor would enable the museum on West Washington Street to expand its offerings and cash-bar locations.

The museum’s café on the north end of the building along the Central Canal has served beer and wine during normal hours since opening in a 2005 expansion. It’s typically closed during catered events.

But if the Eiteljorg receives approval to sell liquor, in addition to what the caterer can offer, it would open the café for those special events, museum spokesman Anthony Scott said.

Two local colleges also have purchased liquor permits and are seeking permission to sell alcohol, though one of the school’s requests likely won’t be considered until the Alcoholic Beverage Board’s March meeting.

Ivy Tech Community College wants approval so it can begin hosting its annual April in Paris fundraiser at its downtown campus. The school plans to have that and other events in the old St. Vincent Hospital facility, which it purchased for $1 from the city and finished renovating in January.

The college tore down parts of the old hospital to construct its new classroom building to accommodate a surge in enrollment.

Ivy Tech also bought and renovated the old Stouffer’s Hotel at 2829 N. Meridian St. with a $22.9 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The school plans to move its culinary program into that space and ultimately may open a restaurant there, where alcohol could be served, Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter said.

Marian University’s request to sell liquor originally was to be considered on Tuesday but now is expected to be heard next month. Its request involves the school’s oversight of the Major Taylor Velodrome and the surrounding Lake Sullivan Sports Complex, which it began managing for the city in April.

The university sold alcohol through a caterer at the facility last fall. Having its own permit, though, would give Marian the ability to offer better prices, said Deb Lawrence, the school’s general counsel and special assistant to the president.

“It’s more cost-effective for us to have our own license rather than do one-day licenses or hire a caterer,” she said.

The requests from the attractions and colleges do not involve carryout sales and are expected to generate little to no opposition from neighborhood groups that normally focus their attention on convenience and drugstore sales.

The latest target of their scrutiny is the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General Corp. discount store chain, which is seeking to sell beer and wine in 32 stores in Marion County.

Fourteen of the permit requests are set to be heard at the Tuesday meeting but likely will be continued until March as well, as the retailer continues to discuss its plans with various neighborhood associations.

Dollar General so far has been unsuccessful in swaying the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations.

“We are tired of all the alcohol permits given out to everybody and anybody who comes along,” said Norman Pace, the alliance’s Warren Township director. “They hand them out like pieces of candy.”

Nationally, about 3,000 Dollar General stores sell beer. The goal is to stock alcohol in half of the company’s 9,800 outlets, a spokeswoman said.

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