Monterey nightlife may be safer, but bar owners struggle with early closing times.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Come July, nightlife fans can experience Monterey as it was in 1930.
Jason Coniglio is using his local family history to re-open his grandfather’s bar – My Attic – inside the adobe at 414 Alvarado, where Monterey Live closed down a few years ago.
The bar opened in the 1930s and was noted as one of the more exclusive in town after World War II. Coniglio is keeping the name and re-creating his grandfather’s sign for the bar.
“We want people to experience history, rather than just having a drink,” he says of his high-end lounge concept. “We want a good, safe and upbeat location.”
Since Monterey Live was closed for longer than 18 months, Coniglio had to apply for a new use permit. With it came a stipulation from the city planning department that Coniglio would have to close the bar at 1am.
“It was never communicated to us that there were restricted hours,” Coniglio says. “The city wants to clean the place up and I understand that, but I was angry at the lack of communication.”
Coniglio has worked out an agreement with the city allowing him to close at 2am. But other downtown bars have had less luck.
Down the street on a Monday evening, Mucky Duck co-owner Anthony Buich is slinging drinks and taking dinner orders. After problems with the previous owners and a shooting in January 2010, there has not been a police call in the six months since the city imposed a midnight closing time. The bar was up for its six-month review from the city on Tuesday; staff recommended relaxing restrictions.
The city’s Planning Commission voted 5-2 to extend the Mucky Duck’s hours until 2am and allow them to serve food and liquor until 2am. Live entertainment on the bar’s back patio will now close at 10pm during the week – one hour later – and midnight on weekends and holidays.
The open patio is one of the only ones with live entertainment in downtown Monterey. The noise issue was highly contentious, drawing both criticism and support from Alvarado Street business owners during the hearing.
“The police have gone out of their way to commend us on our efforts,” Buich says. “We have earned the opportunity to operate like any other business.”
Plans for regular hours at the Mucky Duck and a new bar on Alvarado may boost the ailing downtown, but the problems surrounding the Hippodrome – a former club which had nearly 200 police calls in the year before it was shut down – aren’t soon going to be forgotten by the city.
As with the Mucky Duck, any restrictions imposed on the Hippodrome location will remain in place even if its ownership changes.
“The city has had several inquiries for the re-establishment of that location,” Associate City Planner Todd Bennett says. “We do intend to go forward with the restrictions if a bar is to be at that site.”