The Blue Line weighs options ahead of COVID-19 restrictions

River Market bar already operates at 50% capacity
The Blue Line Nighttime
Posted at 9:22 PM, Nov 18, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At least one Kansas City, Missouri, bar is weighing its options, including legal ones, before the city’s latest COVID-19 restrictions go into effect.

The Blue Line, a River Market staple, closes at 3 a.m., and guidelines that require restaurants to close at 10 p.m. would cost the business five hours of tips and tabs – while it’s already hurting financially.

The bar owner sat down with his attorney, Michael Gunter, to go over their options ahead of Friday's enforcement.

“It’s affecting everyone, but what's it going to cost for this establishment?” Gunter said. “To close? Are workers now going to lose their jobs, losing five hours?

Gunter said they believe the 10 p.m. closing time is “arbitrary.”

“Is he entitled to compensation from the city?” Gunter said. “Is the city that's enforcing this going to pay them for lost revenue?”

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said the cutoff time is based on public health experts seeing more young adults contract COVID-19.

The Blue Line already is operating under changes to help contain the spread of COVID-19, including limiting capacity to 50%.

India Fernandez, a patron of the Blue Line, said for those who have been drinking, their “logic already is diminished."

“I mean, you're not gonna care about wearing a mask, especially when you are in my demographic like 20-to-30 year olds,” Fernandez said, “like people my age are not caring about this like they should be.”

Lucas, however, said the measures are not about control.

“I'm a mayor, I want tax revenue,” he said. “It's not about shutting anything down. It's about keeping people safe and keeping people alive.”

The Blue Line and Gunter have not yet made any decisions regarding “formal legal action.”

Unlike in St. Louis, where dozens of restaurants filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday claiming the county executive lacks the legal authority to declare indoor dining illegal.

If Kansas City, Missouri, bar and restaurant owners did the same, the Lucas said he doesn't think it would change anything.

"We are allowed to try to keep people safe," Lucas said. "We'll continue to keep people safe. We will defend any litigation and we’ll be successful."