The owners of the Capital Cafe, located in the basement of the Ohio statehouse, want to expand their business to sell liquor.
While visions of a lounge come to mind, the reality is less thrilling, according to the Associated Press. The owner of the business, Louie Pappas of Milos Catering, wants to install a wooden bar in one area of the cafe that would serve alcoholic beverages – wine, beer and liquor – after 5 p.m., Pappas told the AP, alcohol would not be openly displayed and would not be available to the public or during hours when children could be present for a field trip.
Bloomberg.com reported that since 1992, evening events in the building have included alcohol. Gregg Dodd, spokesman for the Board, told Bloomberg.com, “This is one of those things where the small business is trying to enhance their operation and enhance their revenue.”
Pappas agreed. “This has been twisted so many ways,”” he said. “We’re just trying to think outside the box and create a little more revenue for that space. If we succeed in renting it out more often, of course the state gets more money from us because we pay more rent.”
Legislators are speaking out on both sides of this debate. Republican Rex Damschroder from Freemont, Ohio , in written comments to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, said the idea “sends a very negative message to the public. … At this point, I am aware of no valid reason for a bar to be located in the center of Ohio’s government operations. There are plenty of bars in downtown Columbus, and the Statehouse is the last place that should be added to the list.”
The board is the state agency that has authority over activities in the state capitol’s complex of buildings.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, looks at it differently.
“Prohibition ended in the 1930s, so what’s the big deal. … But the idea that there’s alcohol in the Statehouse should be completely unsurprising to anyone.”