COLDWATER – As attendees of recent events at Tibbits Opera House have already discovered, Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc. acquired a full liquor license in February and “The Ghost Light Bar” is open at the historic theatre.
Tibbits Board of Directors opted to pursue a developmental liquor license after members had attended a conference and learned of the immense value of such a move. Tibbits Opera House is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres which held a regional conference in Fort Wayne last year. The number of sessions devoted to alcohol sales and related topics was indicative of the growing trend.
According to Rick Merrill, Tibbits board president, “We learned theatre-goers are coming to expect more when they attend the theatre, including the ability to enjoy a cocktail with the show. Thus, the Board deemed it worthwhile to pursue a liquor license and gain a new, valuable revenue stream for the theatre.” He added, “We need to stay relevant and constantly look for ways to offset rising costs in ways other than just raising ticket prices.”
While Tibbits has, for certain events, utilized special licenses available to nonprofits, they are limited to 12 per year. According to Christine Delaney, Tibbits Executive Director, “When you count the number of Tibbits Summer Theatre performances, concerts throughout the year, the classic film double features, community theatre events and performances like the Rotary Show we have a lot more opportunity than the 12 licenses allow.” Delaney assured, Tibbits’ bar will only be open when appropriate to the performance.
The Ghost Light Bar is located next to the elevator in the south lobby of the theatre. A second bar location will open depending on the show either with a portable bar in the theatre’s main lobby or in the lower level art gallery across from the gift shop. While initially Tibbits will limit offerings to beer and wine, the plan is to include spirits at a later date.
The law firm of Lillis and Jansen, P.C. were instrumental in the liquor application process. Tibbits has so far trained about 20 volunteers plus staff in safe techniques for alcohol management. With the new liquor rules Tibbits will also be vigilant in not allowing outside food and beverages into the building and of course only serving patrons with valid identification.
Tibbits Opera House built in 1882 first featured bar sales when its second owner, Joseph Henning added a saloon and ten-pin alley in the basement. For a complete schedule of events go online to Tibbits.org, stop at the Tibbits offices at 93 W. Chicago St., Coldwater 9-5 Mon. through Fri., or call 517.278.6029.
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