Last week, controversy erupted when Regal Cinemas submitted an application to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission--an application that Regal hoped would help them obtain a liquor license for their downtown Pioneer Place Theater. The proposed plan would allow adults to purchase and drink beer and wine in a reserved section of the lobby--but, if approved, Regal won't allow alcohol in the auditoriums, as the popular Laurelhurst and McMenamins theater pubs have been doing for years.

Whether or not Regal will follow through with the application has yet to be seen. Before their application to the OLCC can even be considered, Regal has a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through: They must submit an alcohol control plan--a document that outlines how Regal plans to serve alcohol and enforce liquor laws--and also must present a separate application to the City of Portland. (By press time, neither the control plan nor a separate application had been submitted. No one from Regal's national offices returned the Mercury's calls.)

But even if Regal Cinemas does not push for its alcohol permit, the OLCC has plans to take a hard look at current liquor laws for all of Oregon's theater pubs--that is, they may open up all theaters to beer drinking.

According to OLCC spokesperson Ken Palke, Regal's application coincided with the OLCC's desire to reexamine their rules for dealing with theater pubs. "It's not a cause and effect [situation] at all," said Palke.

"Some of the people we've talked to wouldn't want it in a Regal, but love their McMenamins," Palke added. "And we have quite a [group of] vocal alcohol preventative folks."

Currently, an advisory committee consisting of representatives from local theaters, police officers and the OLCC will meet on June 24. The chance for public input will be on August 9, when the OLCC will host a public hearing.

Depending on how those meetings go--and if Regal Cinemas submits the proper paperwork--the OLCC could approve Pioneer Place's alcohol permit as soon as October.