A group of downtown Walnut Creek bar owners called a press conference Monday evening to present a united front, indicate stability in the community and say they were committed to safety and security improvements.
With the backdrop of North Broadway and the downtown library, the ad hoc group — tentatively called Walnut Creek Nightlife Establishments — maintained that downtown Walnut Creek was a safe place for people to come for entertainment, and that recent instances of drunken violence spilling out into parking lots and streets were "isolated." The incidents have been "overemphasized" in some media accounts, said Patsy Wilkinson, owner of .
At the press conference, owner John Crovo noted the stability of the bars represented with an interest in the long term — 11 taverns with a collective 215 years of local ownership.
The press conference comes on the eve of. Lift is appealing the city's attempt to impose changes on its conditional use permit, including pushing back closing time from 12:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The council takes up the Lift Lounge appeal in a meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.
Staggering closing times is not a cure-all. It often means passing one bar's problem drinkers to the next, the one with a later closing time, said Crovo. Bars' security personnel are the "first line of defense," Crovo said, with the help of vigilant bartenders and servers to keep the wrong people from entering saloons in the first place.
Walnut Creek Nightlife Establishments is the right organization to rectify problems, Crovo said. The group has printed a common-look red-and-white placard for members to post: "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone; Dress Code Enforced." The common look is meant to communicate solidarity of the coalition.
The group has met with city leaders and is beginning to meet regularly to find common ground on problems. Bar managers are taking action to get to know the police beat officers and watch commanders that help maintain downtown safety, Crovo said.
to "level the playing field" in regulating individual bars that violate city laws, Crovo said, "We'd like to see the legislation first."
"There are problems — we recognize that," said Wilkinson, who said Walnut Creek has taken on "big city problems" in the last decade. Many people around Contra Costa County venture out, saying "let's go to Walnut Creek tonight," Crovo said.
Represented at the press conference were Crogan's, Club 1220, Shiro, Dan's, Mr. Lucky's, 1515 Restaurant, Vice Lounge, Lift Lounge, Masses and Spoontonic.
"The city is safe and was never not safe," said Jeff Dudum, owner of McCovey's Restaurant. High-end national chains — Neiman Marcus, Tiffany — that make their decisions based on professional evaluations have decided to locate here, said Dudum, and that speaks well of downtown safety.