HAMILTON, Ohio -- Thirty liquor licenses are now up for grabs for restaurateurs and bar owners hoping to do business in Hamilton.
The Hamilton City Council on Wednesday night approved the creation of two community entertainment districts, which bring with them 15 new licenses each.
"It's a bounded area that includes entertainment, retail, educational, sporting, social, cultural or arts establishments," said Daniel Tidyman, an associate planner with the city's planning department.
The first community entertainment district (CED) approved spans from North B Street to the Great Miami River, as well as parts of downtown east of the river. The second will overlay the area around downtown.
The benefit, the city argues, is to lure more entertainment business to Hamilton.
"Having more restaurants and bars will generate more foot traffic and better support our business districts," said Mallory Greenham, Hamilton's small business development specialist. "These districts, the Spooky Nook sports complex and our unique local businesses will certainly make Hamilton a destination."
State regulations say that there must be a $50 million proposed investment within the district to create a CED. With the Spooky Nook Sports complex's $144 million investment, the city approved the creation of two CEDs.
Greenham said a CED presents an opportunity to make an area within a city flourish.
"Restaurants can lower their cost per plate by utilizing one of the licenses and serving alcohol," said Greenham. "This can be more attractive for possible businesses coming to the city."
Current Hamilton business owner John Kallenberger of the sushi burrito chain Roll On In believes the new CED will only help existing businesses like his.
"As a fast-casual sushi restaurant that serves beer, I believe having an entertainment district will bring a density of options surrounding my business, which will help attract more people overall," Kallenberger said.
Kallenberger said he doesn't view new restaurants as competition.
"I choose to see them as new reasons for more people to visit the main street district. These are people who would otherwise head somewhere else," he said. "But now they will be here, and some of them are going to want sushi."
The next step is for Hamilton to log the districts into the systems of Ohio's Division of Liquor Control, which will then allow business owners to start applying for licenses.