The Davis City Council on Tuesday will consider a restaurateur’s plea to open a downtown pizzeria and bar despite a temporary ban on adding such businesses in the college town where a man was fatally stabbed at a bar last month.
Blondies New York Pizza Co. was in the midst of plans to open at 330 G St. when the Davis City Council two weeks ago imposed the 45-day moratorium after the stabbing death of Peter Alexander Gonzales, 23, a Los Angeles-area college student, at KetMoRee restaurant and nightclub.
The city, reeling from the downtown slaying, said the moratorium was intended to bring civic leaders, nightlife businesses, law enforcement and the larger community together to discuss steps to promote safety.
“The murder was a shock to our collective system,” Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil said Monday. “We really need to think about what we want our downtown to be.”
City staff members have recommended that the council reject Blondies’ request to open the proposed restaurant and sports bar, including its plans to serve as primarily a nightclub after 10 p.m. Blondies has projected a 299-person capacity bar space and adjacent outdoor patio, and city staffers said owners were reluctant to restrict or limit alcohol sales.
The proposed restaurant and bar is slated to fill the space where the Little Prague Restaurant operated until its July 2014 closure. The location is a block north of the KetMoRee nightclub.
Davis city staff members cited police data that show five restaurants serving liquor on G Street between First and Third streets have had a combined 74 police incidents from Jan. 1 to Sept. 20, including Gonzales’ death Sept. 19.
City staffers in their report said the police data suggest Blondies is “more likely to fall within the types of facilities that have generated the majority of police responses” downtown.
But Blondies’ owners say the ban is stunting their momentum and costing them money and time spent to open their business.
Representatives of 330 G St. LLC, Blondies’ ownership group, said in its appeal that the ban creates an economic hardship. Owners, they argued, spent “substantial sums of money” on architecture, development and the transfer of a liquor license since signing a lease agreement for the property in April. Blondies’ owners accuse the city of changing policy at a time when they anticipated gaining city approval for their project and beginning construction of their new restaurant.
The owners also wrangled support from nearby business owners who signed letters in support of an exemption.
“They put so much effort into going through all the hoops,” said Wilson Lam, owner of nearby Copyland on G Street who signed a letter supporting an exemption for Blondies. “They’ve invested so much. This is their lifeline, their investment.”
Brazil said he understands the ownership group’s position but stands by the recommendation and the 45-day ban.
“We have reasons (for opposing the appeal) that are clearly articulated,” Brazil said. “They want to open, dip their toe in the water. We get where they’re coming from. We’re not saying, ‘No.’ We’re saying, ‘Give us time.’ ”