IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Library Nightclub, 113 E. College St., will be the first bar to offer a non-alcoholic floor to patrons under the age of 21, who wish to stay past 10 p.m. On Thursday the city approved a request to make the Library into Iowa City's first split venue bar.
"We wanted to figure out a way to let (underage people) here, but still be a bar at the same time," said Russ Brown, co-manager at the Library Nightclub.
A city ordinance requires anyone under the age of 21 to leave a bar by 10 p.m., but the ordinance makes exceptions for split, or divided, venues. Tom Lenoch, owner of the Library, said the lower level of the bar will only serve non-alcoholic alternatives such as energy drinks starting at 10 p.m., while the upper level will serve alcohol.
"Underage people like to go out and they aren't all drinking," Brown said. "They go out to socialize and they like to go out and dance."
The Library "Underground" will be open after 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Alcohol will still be served on both floors Tuesdays, co-manager Erin Buckel, said.
Bar staff will supervise both the lower and upper levels of the bar, Lenoch said. Patrons will receive different color cups, and no alcohol will be allowed on the basement floor, while no one under the age of 21 will be allowed on the main floor.
"We're giving them somewhere to come, somewhere to hang out, somewhere to socialize," Buckel said. "But in a safer environment than say a house party."
There will be separate entrances for the two levels. Underage people entering the "Underground" are required to be at least 18 years old and must have a student ID card, Buckel said.
The Library "Underground" will open next Thursday. Both the University of Iowa and local police department have expressed satisfaction with the idea.