ST. GEORGE — When Jasher and Lisa Jean Feellove’s conditional use permit to open a bar at 2 W. St. George Blvd. in Ancestor Square came before the city council Dec. 3, it was met with silence. Then, the matter was tabled till Dec. 17.
Thursday afternoon, the council approved the Feelloves’ permit. They also passed a secondary motion to reduce the number of bars that may operate in the Arts District from four to two.
It was Councilwoman Dannielle Larkin’s motion that was met with silence Dec. 3. Though she had her own concerns, she felt the right thing to do was to approve the application.
“We didn’t have any legal basis to deny this application,” Larkin said Friday. “The language is tricky because it says that a conditional use permit ‘shall be granted.’ Unless we can prove that the establishment’s effects can’t be mitigated, we had to approve this application.”
Lisa Jean Feellove, who is married to Jasher, told St. George News she wasn’t worried about their application during the two weeks that have passed since it was tabled.
“We only wanted fair consideration,” Feellove told St. George News Friday. “We weren’t looking for special treatment, but a fair process.”
Feellove’s confidence was bolstered by her intention, which is to bring something positive to the community.
“This lounge will be beneficial to the community in so many ways,” she said. “This community is growing, and people want nice places to go to experience the nightlife.”
Feellove, who’s from Los Angeles, said she’s spoken to too many people who were considering moving to St. George, only to find that there is no nightlife to speak of.
“They say: ‘There’s nothing here for me,'” Feellove said. “St. George is so beautiful, and there’s so much to do during the day. But what about those who want to go out at night?”
The lone “no” vote came from Councilman Jimmie Hughes, who said he didn’t want to see the Arts District turn into the Bar District.
“I voted ‘no’ to show support to business owners who expressed concerns about another bar opening in the area,” Hughes said. “There are good bars and bad bars. We know the bad ones because the police get lots of calls to come out to them.”
Hughes conceded that the Feelloves’ lounge doesn’t sound like it belongs to the latter group, but only time would tell.
Feellove said the upscale lounge she and her husband intend to open will be a positive presence in the community.
“We’ve established other businesses here,” Feellove said, referring to Feellove Coffee, Café Feellove, and Be Hot Yoga. “These are places where people can go to meet people and be inspired. We want to draw a more mature crowd.”
Though the council has been dismayed by the number of applications for new bars in the Arts District, Feellove said it makes sense.
“In order for a city to thrive, you need a walkable downtown,” Feellove said. “A walkable downtown is always going to be a draw — especially if you give people something to do. People like to walk from a performance to a restaurant, then from a restaurant to a bar. This makes people from larger cities feel welcome, at home.”
Mayor Jon Pike said the vote to reduce the number of bars that may operate in the Arts District was a cautionary measure meant to protect downtown St. George’s family-friendly vibe.
“We want to be careful with how our downtown is developed as we grow,” Pike said. “We wanted to be fair to the applicants, but we also need to make sure that, in 20 years, people still want to live here and visit the area.”
Larkin echoed Pike’s concern.
“We want to do what’s best for the Arts District,” Larkin said. “We want to keep our downtown quaint and walkable. We granted this permit. Now we’ll see how it plays out.”
“As the city grows, we’re seeing more diversity,” Feellove said. “There’s a real need for a place like this here, and we want to meet that need.”
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