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The City That Banned Karaoke …


Seriously, you banned karaoke, Lilburn, Georgia? And it lasted 2 years? I’m guessing those lawmakers must have hatedFootloose.” All that dancing and music … As reported in The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Sing your hearts out, Lilburn. Now, it’s allowed. Two years after the city put the kibosh on karaoke in an effort to curtail crime, leaders have relaxed their liquor law to permit karaoke and other forms of “interactive” entertainment, including trivia, darts and pool, at restaurants that sell alcohol.

Why the change in tune? [Ouch.] To attract and keep businesses and young adults.

“Lilburn has matured, and we want to keep it vibrant,” said Mayor Diana Preston. “Our focus is keeping our business community strong and that means a diversity of businesses.”

And, she said, Lilburn — which bans bars — wants to accommodate its young adults, who enjoy pub atmospheres.

Lilburn officials had tightened up its alcohol ordinance in 2007 amid controversy over Sports Fan Bar and Grill. The City Council had argued that crime follows bars, and they believed Sports Fan was a bar masquerading as a restaurant.

So leaders clamped down on common bar activities such as karaoke. The action stirred debate, with some accusing Lilburn of closing the tap on good times. Sports Fan shut down last year.

The City Council approved the ordinance revisions Monday night. Lilburn’s liquor laws now compare to Gwinnett County’s.

Thor Johnson, president of the Lilburn Business Association, said the change has been a long time coming. “Chain restaurants will not move into a community like this because restrictions we’ve had in the past,” Johnson said.

But what about crime? Preston said that’s no longer a concern given the number of police officers and the creation of the alcohol review board.

City Clerk Kathy Maner acknowledges that Lilburn officials are “walking a fine line. [Leaders] want to make Lilburn a business-friendly city as well as make sure their citizens are protected.”

Oyster Barn Grill & Bar had pulled its pool tables and video games during the 2007 clamp down. New owner Bob Carmen said he’s indifferent to the revisions and doesn’t plan to add entertainment options. “We frankly found the law to be provincial, but our objective is to be a good popular restaurant,” he said.

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