At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on July 6, the White Plains Common Council voted six to one to change the city’s Municipal Code regarding cabarets to allow the collection of a fee at the door.
With many entertainment establishments in White Plains expressing angst at having to wait for the city’s cabaret code to be revised, the wait was most likely well worth it when the Council voted to allow restaurants to collect an entrance fee on top of the prices already posted on their food and drink menus.
The code now allows: “a fee or fixed charge for entertainment or service that is added to a bill for patrons with reserved table seating; or the selling of tickets in advance or the charging of a fee inside the premises for live musical entertainment, excluding a disc jockey, provided the Department of Public Safety approves a Live Musical Entertainment Permit, the application for which shall be submitted at least 10 days in advance of the performance.”
The code still requires that cabarets are conducted in restaurants only and defines the operation of primary and secondary cabarets based on square footage.
Incidental musical entertainment by not more than four live persons playing non-amplified music is not considered a cabaret use and does not require a permit. Nor does one person playing one instrument with or without a low-wattage amplifier. Canned background music is also not considered a cabaret use.
Before voting Mayor Tom Roach said there had been confusion about the definition of what a cabaret actually is and that the changes to the code were intended to simplify the application procedure. “A lot was accomplished during this process,” Road said. “We tried to create balance.”
Council president John Martin, former chairman of the White Plains Business Improvement District (BID), said the BID was in favor of the changes to the law.
Councilwoman Beth Smayda cast the only nay vote, saying she was not convinced that the collection of fees at the door was a good idea, especially as crowds gathering to enter might cause noise that would impact nearby residential neighborhoods.