Norman mayor meets with restaurant and bar owners over Campus Corner crowd concerns

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Norman Mayor Breea Clark met with restaurant and bar owners on Thursday to address crowds, especially with thousands of OU students returning to campus.

“At this time there are zero conversations about closing bars,” Clark said. “No decisions have been made and no decision will be made without input from council.”

Clark says complaints have poured in from people concerned about a lack of mask use and social distancing on Campus Corner

At Thursday’s meeting, Clark tossed around ideas, one of them was an earlier closing times.

“The closing early option, people aren’t shoulder to shoulder having dinner,” Clark said. “That’s not the problem area, and it’s not just Campus Corner. Students go to other places, but the Campus Corner ones are the ones I am getting the most, I mean, it’s like daily.”

The owner of Logie’s on Campus Corner says the idea is a nonstarter. He says he does most of his business after 10:30 p.m., so closing early would be a death sentence.

“College kids are not like the average person that goes out for dinner at seven or eight o’clock and goes home. They don’t go out until later,” Logie’s on the Corner Owner Joe Bendetti said. “You’d be sort of prejudicing the decision based on a certain group of people’s habits.”

Clark also mentioned the possibility of having customers sign a log to help with contact tracing if a patron tests positive. The President of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association Jim Hopper says that would be problematic.

“From the conversations I’ve had and from what I’ve read, number one, it would have to be voluntary,” Hopper said. “So…whether or not people would do that.”

Another concern raised is large groups wanting to sit together. Restaurants owners said they’re not in favor of limiting party sizes, instead offering a new idea.

“Even if it requires reservations. Maybe we accept two groups, and that third group, sorry we can’t seat you,” O’Connell’s Owner Jeff Stewart said. “We gotta have reservations.”

Clark says no decision have been made, and she will not take action without approval from the City Council.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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