CASPER, Wyo.– The Casper City Council gave a nod Tuesday during a business session to the only applicant for the city’s open bar and grill license, previously held by the Spotlight Lounge.
La Cocina owner Jim Childs is proposing to move the family operation to new construction at The Compass, a commercial turnout off Centennial Hills and SE Wyoming Boulevards.
The new location would include seating for 100 to 112 people and a patio for seasonal use facing the mountain, according to city clerk Fleur Tremel.
Childs told council on Tuesday that he plans to open by April 2023. Councilman Bruce Knell warned that the city’s only remaining bar and grill license will essentially sit idle for nearly a year, and told Childs that with license comes an expectation of a realized vision. .
Mayor Ray Pacheco said La Cocina’s vision would be a significant addition to the east side of town.
“Will there be adequate parking?” asked board member Lisa Engebretsen. The Compass currently houses a Metro location and a branch of Hilltop Bank. Tremel and Pacheco said most of the batch would be released in the evening.
“It’s going to be a lunchtime zoo,” council member Steve Cathey said. He went on to say that a lack of turning lanes for multiple turn-offs on Centennial Hills Blvd was already causing traffic control issues.
“Something from a traffic point of view needs to be done there,” Cathy said. “It ends up being backed up to Outer Drive, turning to some of those places.”
City Manager Carter Napier said traffic studies that were conducted in anticipation of Compass’s current capacity should hold up with La Cocina there, especially if Childs pursues possible employee parking.
The Board agreed to Napier presenting the proposal for formal consideration at the Tuesday, June 7 meeting.
La Cocina currently operates a restaurant liquor license at its location on East E Street.
Bar and grill licenses require businesses to have a physical bar with at least eight seats and a serving station. At least one bartender is required, and the business must offer at least six “prime distilled spirits” for sale. Businesses with a bar and grill license must also have at least 60% of their gross sales come from the restaurant business, and no more than 40% of their gross sales come from the sale of alcohol.
Bar and grill licenses cost $10,500 for the first year, with an annual renewal fee of $3,000.