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April 3, 2010

Police activity prompts city to want to roll back hours that 1515 Restaurant can serve alcohol

Tony and Jack Dudum, the son and father owners of 1515 Restaurant and Lounge, will be in front of the City Council Tuesday, once again to deal with the issue of 1515's  closing times. In September, the City Council said they had to stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. They wanted to be able to serve alcohol at their North Main Street bar and restaurant until 1:45 a.m. 

The Dudums went to the city Planning Commission and Council last summer, asking for permission to extend their hours and to be able to provide live entertainment and dancing. At that time, they could only serve alcohol until 12 a.m. downstairs and 11:30 p.m. upstairs. After listening to the Dudums say that the extended hours would bring them additional revenue and allow them to serve loyal night-owl customers, the City Council on September 15, 2009 came up with a compromise. It said that 1515 could serve alcohol until 1 a.m.

However, this extension was subject to a six-month probationary period. The period is up, and the question stands whether the Dudums should be able to serve alcoho past 1 a.m.

Unfortunately for the Dudums, the city says their restaurant didn't do so well during the six months. There were eight incidents requiring a police response. These incidents include an assault, two thefts, someone being arrested on a warrant, another patron being arrested for public drunkenness, and the restaurant's valet parking cars in handicapped spaces. In February, 1515 employees were caught drinking in the back of the restaurant.

In the fall, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Department also suspended 1515's liquor license for 15 days. This suspension stems from a July 23, 2009 violation in which 1515 was found to have been serving alcohol past its designated closing time. In lieu of the suspension, 1515 agreed to pay a fine of $3,000.

Walnut Creek Community Development staff say in their report to the City Council that some of these incidents are not unique to 1515, but are typical of any downtown bar or lounge that focuses on serving alcohol. "With increased consumption of alcohol in the later hours, midnight to 2 a.m., the customers engage in more activities that require police intervention," the report says. "At 1515 Restaurant and Lounge, the six-month probationary period with a later closing time of 1 a.m. has coincided with an increase of police incidents."

The question about 1515 's closing time comes as the city wrestles with the question of how to balance public safety against the desire to encourage commerce in Walnut Creek and to keep the downtown a happening Bay Area destination for dining and entertainment. Right now, there is a lot happening in downtown. Walnut Creek is "over-saturated" with serving alcohol. State Alcoholic Beverage Control guidelines say that nine establishments in the downtown would be satisfactory to serve the public's need for alcohol. Walnut Creek has 99. 

The Walnut Creek police try to regulate businesses' alcohol use by staggering their alcohol cutoff hours. While some owners find these regulations unfair, the city says it considers each establishment's request to on a case-by-case basis. 

With regard to 1515, city staff is recommending that the business stop serving alcohol at 12:30 a.m. Staff says 1515 should also be barred from providing most live entertainment, except for solo musicians, and from offering reduced-priced drink promotions. 1515 can hold special events, which could include dancing, but it must receive advanced written notice from the police chief. Finally, 1515 must maintain a monthly gross ratio of food to alcohol sales of 65 to 35 percent.

14 comments:

DumbAsBricks said...

I first heard the phrase, "Nothing good happens after midnight" from a judge who was very active from the bench.

I think if these businesses profit at the expense of the community, then they need to pay up. If the tax revenues are covering it, then great. But what exactly are those revenues? If they cause higher police incidents, how much are those incidents vs the revenues?

Beau Hunk said...

99 places that serve alcohol!!!

What a bunch of lushes!

Walnut Creek is not a "happening Bay Area destination for dining and entertainment." It is ground zero for D&D (drunk and disorderly).

Close 'em at midnight.

Anonymous said...

1:45AM are loyal late-night customers? They can go drink at home where they will not be drinking and driving. This place is noisy and has broken the law by serving after hours, they seem to show no respect for the community and their neighbors.

Anonymous said...

I say shut this POS down. These guys do nothing but bad for the community.

Anonymous said...

If nothing good happens after midnight then it's a no brainer. Close all 99 at midnight. It's not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think 8 calls to the WCPD is so bad? Maybe the Dudums called the Police because they got eight visits from Census workers on their property.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I miss Gourmet Sushi and the sushi boats that used to be downstairs in this spot a few years ago. Bring back the sushi boats!

DumbAsBricks said...

Any call to the WCPD costs money because they need additional staffing and resources (cars, administration, and jail space) to satisfy those requests. Presumably, if the bar were closed, those calls would not occur.

Again, I think it is pretty easy to quantify what the expenses to the city are per additional hour any bar remains open if the information is captured at the time of the incident requiring police assistance.

Don't forget. The additional police force is required at ALL times, not just at the time of the incident. The only reason they are there is because they are ready to assist.

They are paid for a shift whether something happens or not.

Anonymous said...

The police dept's idea of staggering closing hours sounds like a logical one to me.

That way the police don't get overwhelmed with a bunch of drunk people staggering out of bars at the same time, potentiallly being rowdy or doing DUIs or being targeted by non-drunk hold-up artists, all of which we've read about happening around closing hour in or around that area.

Maybe the establishments should have some kind of rotating or lottery-based schedule. One year: Club A closes the earliest, followed by Club B, Club C. The next year: reverse the sequence. That way, one particular club isn't stuck for all eternity being the one to close first and lose out on revenues.

Anonymous said...

The police dept's idea of staggering closing hours sounds like a logical one to me.

That way the police don't get overwhelmed with a bunch of drunk people staggering out of bars at the same time, potentiallly being rowdy or doing DUIs or being targeted by non-drunk hold-up artists, all of which we've read about happening around closing hour in or around that area.

Maybe the establishments should have some kind of rotating or lottery-based schedule. One year: Club A closes the earliest, followed by Club B, Club C. The next year: reverse the sequence. That way, one particular club isn't stuck for all eternity being the one to close first and lose out on revenues.

Anonymous said...

If these guys are in any way associated with the census as the one post said, then they truly are a bunch of douchebags.

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Dear 4:29 p.m.

Perhaps you should bring up this idea at the next meeting that deals with this issue of bar closing times in downtown, whether that's a meeting organized by the city or by the Downtown Business Association or whoever else.

kh said...

as a bartender in walnut creek, who has worked at my establishment for 8 months and only witnessed one arrest, which was because someone walked to a nearby liquor store and attempted to drink a beer on the way back to our establishment, I think it would be unfair to randomly assign closing times to bars. Bars that report frequent incidents and over serve to the point where police intervention is needed should be "rewarded" with earlier closing times. establishments that are careful not to serve past hours (we always make sure everyone is out of the establishment well before closing, much less no longer drinking), and who exercise proper judgement when serving patrons should be able to continue to serve to their normal hours. I think that forcing all bars in the area to close at midnight would force people to drive elsewhere to drink past 12am, and the further people are from home the more likely they are to drive instead of paying the increased taxi fare, resulting in more drunk driving. sure, the city's cost would be down, but I dont think it would necessarily go without saying that shutting bars earlier would be better for the general public. people may also feel the need to drink quicker or get drunk faster. just my point of view, which is from a 20-something bartender. I'd be happy to voice this view in any town meeting.

AKA Soccer Mom said...

KH,
I think you're making an interesting point, that the bars that require more calls from police should be "rewarded."

I believe, though, and I'd need to review this, that some of the longer-existing bars were able to keep their late-night hours, because of either state or city regulations. The newer bars are the ones hit with restrictions. I suppose some have well trained staff and a good clientele. Some don't, and that could go for some of the older bars, too.