After California shooting, local bars weigh options to help patrons, staff feel safer

Published: Nov. 9, 2018 at 9:31 PM CST
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Some Cedar Rapids bar owners say a recent shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. has them searching for ways to provide peace of mind to the public.

After a recent shooting late Wednesday night at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, some local bar owners in eastern Iowa admit it the attack hits close to home- now they are weighing the options to improve safety at their establishments. One bar owner said it is imperative because safety is a necessity and responsibility of ownership.

Justin Zehr and Tim Kindl both serve as co-owners at Local Pour Street Food and Brick's Bar & Grill. They described the recent shooting in California as "startling."

"You think about it, if it could happen here, would it happen here?" Kindl said.

"Personally I feel a responsibility to be able to protect the patrons and the employees of this place," Zehr said.

Kindl said since March, he has considered adding extra security measures, but it has not materialized into anything yet. This most recent shooting might change his mind, to his own admission.

"It's not something we've really had a talk with our staff about," Kindl said. "Maybe it's something we should think about doing here, implementing something."

"It's a scary thing," Kindl added. "Because personally my ambition is making this place successful. Not thinking somebody's unwelcome."

Recently, Zehr said the Cedar Rapids Police Department did security checks to ensure safety at nearby bars, including his.

"Checking each place and checking their cameras and making sure that they're on the entrance, on the exit, on the parking lot, and over the cash register, so if something happens, it is going to be caught," Zehr said.

Zehr said these checks are good for business and good for law enforcement to create a partnership if something were to happen. Zehr said cameras can only do so much, and with any threat, there is only so much ownership can do within the confines of state and federal law. He said they hope for the best, but prepare for the worst case scenario.

"Things happen that's completely out of our control," Zehr said. "But hopefully we can invite the right people here and when people do come, they are at ease and they are feeling good and positive- so maybe it deters from anything like that to happen."

Kindl said despite the recent shooting, he still believes Cedar Rapids is safe, and thanks that to the community in eastern Iowa.

"Just like any town or city you're going to have some issues," Kindl said. "But for the most part, I don't know the statistics by any means, but I feel safe here and almost everywhere I go in this town."

Kindl said especially in light of the recent shooting, he is now considering having his staff trained in self defense. That way if something does happen, they all will be better prepared to protect the safety of the customers and themselves.