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Monday, August 29, 2011

The old switcheroo

A while back, the gelato place at 15th and Brazee got a liquor license. As we recall, there wasn't much opposition, because it was a family-friendly neighborhood place that mostly sold ice cream to kids. If a Mom or Dad occasionally wanted a beer while the kids slurped down frozen treats, what harm could it do?

Fast forward to today. The gelato place is gone, and the new tenant has opened a brewpub, with "all-day happy hours" and live music. And they're reportedly getting to use the gelato joint's liquor license while the unhappy neighbors try to figure out what just hit them.

That's wrong.

There are plenty of vacant storefronts on Northeast Broadway. There doesn't need to be a brewpub on Brazee Street. And grandfathering in on somebody else's license? It's hard to believe that's allowed.

Comments (18)

A brewpub sounds pretty benign, but it all depends on what kind of live music is brought in and who it attracts. I presume their hours are limited, given the residental R-5 neighborhood setting.

My neighborhood has a strip bar on St. Helens Road within a hundred feet of homes. Sorry, I can't give a report on how quiet the operation is and how they fit in. I hear they are vegan strippers, though.

They paid all the City and State fees didn't they?

I've played at their original location a couple of times. All acoustic, folky, nothing too loud allowed. It doesn't seem like the kind of place where things will get out of hand, but I guess it could happen anywhere. Their beer selection is amazing, and you have to try their vegetarian poutIne.

Having seen/visited the one on Hawthorne, all I can say is that if you have to have a place serving liquor, this place is about as good as you're going to get. A very mellow place, and crowd. Very family friendly. Seriously, Jack, it's nothing to be (too) concerned about.

But what if they sell out and a worse place comes in? That's the main problem I'm having -- they're reportedly using somebody else's license. By that logic, a much nastier bar could be next.

Why is a liquor license transferable ?

O reporter Larry Bingham writes: "The commission said it would allow the pub to open with beer and wine, but not hard liquor, by using an existing license by the former tenant, Mio Gelato." Can that be right?

Does the OLCC care what kind of establishment it is (Gelato place versus brew pub)? Should they care? Exactly the kind of a subjective value judgement I don't want governmental bureaucrats making because they usually make the wrong ones.

There's an objective difference between an establishment in which alcohol is a minor feature and one in which it is the central focus. It's not subjective at all. Plus, these guys are going for a full liquor license now.

The presence or absence of live music is also not a subjective judgment.

I do see your point. In this kind of way a place could start off as a gelato stand in a quiet neighborhood and end up as a full tilt boogy strip club. I did a couple of contested OLCC cases in the 90s, and in those days the City of Portland (Bureau of Licensing as I recall) was heavily involved in the process, giving input about whether this location or that was appropriate. That might be where to go.

The proposed new bar is located about 3 blocks from my home. Thank goodness Irvington Elementary will serve as a buffer zone.

But what if they sell out and a worse place comes in? That's the main problem I'm having -- they're reportedly using somebody else's license. By that logic, a much nastier bar could be next. Bingo!

Well, it's been open a few days and I've noticed they aren't cleaning the spilled food up outside around the nasty picnic tables. Rats will be around soon. How conscientious will they be about other things? There enough loud drunks wandering past in the middle of the night coming from Aztec Willie's on Broadway.

Jack, I don't blame you for the concern, because I've seen this happen in other cities. It's a quick workaround for bar owners who can't get a liquor license on their own due to past infractions or criminal history. (Out here in Dallas, the game is to borrow the liquor license from existing restaurants, which normally requires that at least 50 percent of the restaurant's revenues come from food. The new license keeper switches to a full bar that sells a couple of sandwiches, and by the time the city can investigate, they've already trashed the place and moved on.)

Just another case of a neighborhood association and City Hall picking and choosing whose residential livability is worth fighting for, and whose isn't. Tough luck folks at 15th and Brazee! Welcome to the less-equal-than-others club!

NIMBY. Darn the government for it's meddling and interference with "small business," but as soon as it's in your backyard, you want those regulations and enforcement. Everywhere is somene's backyard, but outrage only results when it's yours.

I don't know who the "you" is you're addressing, but it's certainly not me. I don't consider government regulation of bars to be "meddling" with anything. Portland has way too many bars, and many of them are sleaze pits that ought to be closed and are only there because of state-sponsored gambling addiction.

Second, I live a long way from 15th and Brazee. It ain't my backyard, but it's somebody's. And it's a location that I happen to know something about.

I have friends who are long time Irvington residents who live not far from that location (easily walkable). And for sometime, they have not been happy to see their livability decline and much of it they attribute to the actions of the CoP.

Went into the establishment. The bar is well stocked with bottles of the hard stuff. Management must be sure of getting the license, or are they selling without?

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