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Walnut Creek Council Votes To Curtail Service Hours At Crogans – With Leeway Granted Over The Holidays

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Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Moraga business beat.

Despite a litigative elephant in the room the Walnut Creek City Council Monday denied an appeal from the owner of Crogan’s Sports Bar & Grill and moved to curtail the hours liquor is served at the business – something city officials and police say has contributed to numerous incidents both inside and outside its doors.

The business’s owner and her counsel asked the council to reconsider a plan calling for the bar/restaurant to issue its Last Call at midnight and to shutter its doors a half hour later, saying such a move would have “devastating” impact on the venerable establishment’s bottom line – and on the Holiday wages of their staff.

They requested a stay to keep their bar service open until 12:30 a.m. through Jan. 1, 2017, the mere half hour time difference having a significant impact on employee wages through the Holidays, according to owner Patricia Wilkinson.

The council assented, members saying they did not wish to unduly impact employee’s wages, but saying their first priority was in ensuring public safety, something Crogan’s continued operation as a recognized public nuisance threatened on a fairly regular basis.

“When the recommendation came to us initially I was more in line with let’s just revoke the deemed approved (designation),” council member Cindy Silva said. “… you’re not going to change a business model that has gone awry by allowing it to continue as it has been.”

Council members said Crogan’s had abandoned its original model as a downtown restaurant and, over time, committed to being a full-fledged bar – with all the associated problems. The council’s decision to curtail the business’s hours was made despite hints of a lawsuit from Wilkinson and her attorney.

“I don’t think the public would mind us being sued over this,” Silva said. “I think they want this resolved.”

Wilkinson said business has been off 20 percent since a patron was shot to death outside her business in August, with police citing a series of 13 additional incidents either in or near the establishment since September.

 

14 COMMENTS

  1. Since they refused to permanently revoke their license, maybe business will decline even further than 20 percent, and they’ll be forced out of business.

    Public safety should come before employee wages. Employees can get another job. You only have one life to live. Someone was shot outside her business, and all she’s worried about is money.

  2. It makes me angry that the owner is pretending to care about anything but her own bottom line. She clearly doesn’t care about the burden her establishment has put on taxpayers or the reputation it has given Walnut Creek. The decision was very fair and her threat to sue just further reveals her true colors.

  3. Crogans contributes to a much larger problem that goes with any heavy drinking downtown area. If it were possible for businesses to permanently 86 people from their premises, and possibly notify other businesses (which I realize is a stretch), there would be fewer problems in that part of town. Also, if businesses cut people off sooner, that could help. A new restaurant in the area, claims they aren’t allowed to cut people off until it becomes a safety issue or something gets broken. Theyve already had their fair share of problems with that, including loss of business. There is little to no accountability for places serving alcohol. Places that serve alcohol are forbidden from serving alcohol to intoxicated people, but don’t always follow this rule. If someone leaves the business after having one too many, and injures himself or another person, can’t the business be held liable for gross negligence? Also, When a recently closed business down the street shut their doors for the night, some people occasionally stay until their 12:30 closing time and then funnel, as many people did, down the street to other bars that were open till 2. The sudden influx of people who had been drinking, mixed with an already packed venue, creates chaos. Cutting hours of business could be effective if it was citywide. Binge drinking runs rampant in Walnut Creek.

  4. I am pleased that the owner is focused on her bottom line because it is a proxy for the value of the service she provides the community. To the extent that bars inflict negative “externalities” on the community, then the holistic system of permitting and excise taxes on liquor should be reconsidered— but not on an ad hoc and one-off basis.

    Please do not tell me “but she violated Ordinance 276.98(d)(iii).” Any business owner will tell you that any government regulatory worth his salt can *ALWAYS* find rules you have broken and screw with you if they so desire.

    In most cases, freedom and private property rights should trump “democracy,” (i.e., be respected in the face of angry demands of the mob).

    I wish her luck with her lawsuit.

  5. @Chris, That’s like saying there should be no consequences to oil companies when there is an oil spill and that the cleanup costs should be deferred to the consumer in the form of a tax. Why punish the consumer for irresponsible business practices? Sounds like a pretty one sided form of freedom.

  6. I don’t think the “bottom line” “is a proxy for the value of the service s/he provides the community”. When someone sponsors, as an example, dog fights for a living, it is pretty hard to point to the community benefit, but the sponsor may do very well indeed. I don’t see this bar owner as a victim of government persecution. I don’t see enforcement of the stated law as a response to the “angry demands of the mob”.

  7. Dog fighting is illegal and oil companies pay for their spills. Selling booze is legal and, despite some exceptions, consuming it brings an immense amount of joy to humanity.

    I think it’s fine to have a general rule that alcohol sales are taxed in various ways to fund extra crowd control and DUI enforcement, but that should be a general rule and no one establishment that is more or less following the rules should be targeted.

    Some people like to go to clubs and have a few drinks. Some don’t. Live and let live.

  8. Dog fighting is illegal. Crogan’s behavior was found to be illegal. Consuming alcohol brings an immense amount of joy and an immense amount of heartache and regret. What is your point??? They have due process available. This is not mob rule. This is not government persecution. Good grief, Crogan’s is not a victim here. This is not even bad luck. The establishment’s behavior singled it out for prosecution.

  9. Why are you referring to mob rule? I am not aware of any street protests or even twitter campaigns targeting the ABC or local police to act against Crogan’s. What are you referencing?

  10. I know you have studied law…There is no prohibition with charging one offender when others have yet to be charged. The law doesn’t require all violators be charged simultaneously. Where does this notion of government persecution come from? Not from the law. If you have evidence or suspicion of selective prosecution, explain the basis of it…Otherwise, your opinion is just your opinion, and one lacking support from the facts.

  11. This is my opinion. I’m commenting on a story, nothing more. I know only the facts written here. My reason for lauding booze is that this is a balancing act– a point ignored by some seeking to limit alcohol sales. The mob is my imagined dynamic (found to be accurate numerous times, but I am just pattern matching) where the enforcement wasn’t random, but was precipitated by complaints and follow-up from a small number of citizens who (more assumptions coming) likely would oppose any late-night bar in that location.

    My core point is that, even in a democracy, we should (my opinion) place a very high burden of those seeking to curtain personal and professional liberty. That is all.

  12. If a patron being shot to death outside your business in August, as well as 13 other incidents since September (three months ago) doesn’t meet your “high burden,” I guess nothing will. Wow.

  13. It’s pretty clear to me just from the anecdotal evidence alone that there’s an issue there. Whether it’s the patrons or the business itself is open argument but if people are getting hurt or even killed there it’s pretty clear that some action needs to be taken.

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