Cru Lounge gets OK on alcohol sales from Tuscaloosa

A new bar opening up on Highway 69 South in Tuscaloosa got the OK for a liquor license from the Tuscaloosa City Council Tuesday amid a debate over putting a pause on new bars.

The council voted 6-1 in approving the conditional use and alcohol licenses for Cru Lounge, a franchised business with locations around Alabama, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere.

Another restaurant, Grandstand, located at 2209 Fourth St., had its bid to switch from a restaurant to a bar denied. Grandstand earlier this year applied for a gastropub license that would allow it to operate as a restaurant during dining hours and offer extended hours as a bar, and that application was also denied.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley said during the city’s Public Safety Committee meeting ahead of the council meeting that the Tuscaloosa Police Department is up against a hurdle it has little hope of beating at the moment.

“Tuscaloosa has a lot of bars that people go to,” Blankley said. “Our concern is that adding more bars is going to stretch our already thin staff. We are very grateful for the city looking to possibly suspend them for a little bit and taking a look back and asking what’s best for the city.”

Council members questioned Cru Lounge owners on area safety, occupancy and hours of operation, looking to ensure their final decision would be in the best interest of the community.

“We have policies and procedures in place for security,” said Cru affiliate Allen Bailey. “We go through background checks. We also do screening processes, security is a big one.”

Cru Tuscaloosa owner Ladarrin Kennedy said his business isn’t just another local bar.

“My overall mission is to see how I can give back to the community and have a place where people can come out and feel safe and have fun,” said Kennedy.

Council members went back and forth on the matter and made requests for approval. Ultimately, the council approved a conditional use license for Cru Lounge right after denying Grandstand’s application.

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