*All clear at Artmosphere

by Walter Pierce

*That's what a jubilant owner was proclaiming Monday morning before bringing receipts to BR; the state, however, is still reviewing the evidence. Fingers crossed, y'all.

Photo by Robin May

Artmosphere owner Berry Kemp

Popular bistro Artmosphere is evidently in the clear for now. Facing a forfeiture of its license to sell alcohol if it didn't get its food sales up to 51 percent of revenue over the course of a three-month trial period applied by the state office of Alcohol & Tobacco Control, owner Berry Kemp on Monday jubilantly announced on Facebook before heading to Commissioner Troy Hebert's Baton Rouge office to present her receipts, "We are so pleased to announce that we have made it to 51%! Artmosphere lives! Thank you all so much for your support. The work doesn't stop here, stay tuned!"

Reached for confirmation via text message Monday afternoon, Hebert replied, "Will review what they sent. ATC hopes that they can remain open and will work with them to remain compliant." Hebert's reference to hoping Artmosphere can "remain open" is a critical caveat: Assuming the venue did in fact reach 51 percent in food sales - that's a requirement of having a liquor license as a restaurant as opposed to a bar, which can make 100 percent of its revenue on alcohol sales - Artmosphere must maintain that 51 percent figure for an additional six-month probationary period with monthly checks of its receipts. If the bistro fails to keep the food sales at 51 percent, it could still face license forfeiture. And since Artmosphere has evolved into more of a nightly live music venue, losing its liquor license would likely be disastrous for its business model. Who doesn't listen to live music and not get their drank on?

"For the past few months we've been introducing more specials, hosting food events and other things to get our food sales up. ...We'll be looking over the menu, possibly making changes to it and the kitchen and hosting more food events," Kemp adds in a later Facebook post Monday. Artmosphere made a strong push to get its food sales up in the waning weeks before Monday, hosting a pair of Eat Fest events - noon to midnight live music on the last two Saturdays with an emphasis on food - as well as heavily promoting its build-your-own pizzas and burgers.