Scrubbing the Clubs
Monterey’s Hippodrome faces ABC suspension and possible sale; The Mucky Duck cleans up.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The thumping bass and laser lights at the Hippodrome may soon cease, and the future of the Peninsula’s largest nightclub is up in the air.
The 12,000-square-foot, multi-floor space on Monterey’s Alvarado Street, which has been home to numerous nightclubs since 1979, is being sold by its current owner, Jove Shapiro, who took over in 2007 and renamed the club formerly known as Club Octane.
Shapiro confirms he’s received an offer on the business, though he won’t say from whom. He’s still unsure whether the club will close or change its name when it changes hands. City officials and property manager Anthony Davi were unaware of the sale.
“[The Hippodrome] takes up a lot of time and energy with little payoff,” says Shapiro, who owns another nightclub, The Pussycat, in Cupertino.
The Hippodrome has also been under increasing scrutiny from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. In a June 23 document signed by ABC District Administrator Karyn Nielsen, the agency recommends a suspension of the club’s liquor license because of frequent police visits. Case logs show Monterey officers responded to 23 calls for service at or near the Hippodrome between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 5, 2011, including battery, fighting in public and assault with a deadly weapon.
ABC spokesperson John Carr says the agency plans to slap the club with a 30-day liquor license suspension, effective Nov. 1. Shapiro declined to comment about the suspension or the increased police presence at his club.
Shapiro says this is the club’s first ABC penalty; The Mucky Duck on Alvarado Street and Blue Fin Billiards on Cannery Row are past offenders.
Monterey city officials and bar owners say there’s been a crackdown on downtown’s drunk and disorderly since the Jan. 1 shooting outside The Mucky Duck that wounded three and spooked many more.
“We can’t afford to have another New Year’s Eve shooting,” says City Manager Fred Meurer.
Mucky Duck owner Anthony Buich says he and his brother, Alex, have operated the club without incident since they took it over from prior father-son owners John and Eric Waddell in June. Yet the city still imposes strict sanctions on the bar, like no live music on the outdoor patio after 9pm.
“The environment that was created at the past Mucky Duck dictated the city’s decisions about our rules,” Buich says. “It’s hurting us financially to have these restrictions placed on us.”
Monterey Zoning Administrator Todd Bennett says the city’s Planning Commission staff is in favor of slightly easing some of The Mucky Duck’s restrictions: “They’ve been very receptive to working with the city.”
As for the Hippodrome, Bennett says his office has had no direct contact with Shapiro or anyone else at the club, and is limited in what actions it can take against businesses located in redevelopment areas.
Lt. Jeff Jackson, the Monterey Police Department’s ABC liaison, says his team has the most trouble with crowds at hip-hop concerts that attract what he calls “gangster people.”
He hopes whoever takes over the Hippodrome makes entertainment choices that won’t attract troublemakers.
“If you’re going to play music that says, ‘Fuck the police,’” he says, “you’re going to attract a crowd that sometimes likes to get in a fight.”