After a number of violent incidents surrounding BYOB clubs, Cedar Rapids council looks at potential changes

By  | 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - City staff said they are concerned about violence after recent incidents at the three 5 a.m. "bring your own beer" clubs in Cedar Rapids. Police records show there have been around 60 calls to just these three establishments since the beginning of the year.

Andrew Harrison, owner of Club Basix in Cedar Rapids, said these acts of violence threaten his business.

“They don’t have liquor liability, and we have to, in order to have a license, so I’m concerned they’d come after us,” he said.

In order to have a liquor license, businesses need to also have liquor insurance. If the person who leaves Harrison’s bar gets into an accident or a fight breaks out and can be traced back to Basix, Harrison said his bar could be shut down.

“That’s a fear any time there is drunk driving though,” he explained.

This year alone police have responded to 60 calls for various reasons. In one instant a male was throwing rocks at a security guard; another, a woman said she was cut on the leg by a beer bottle.

But city council member Dale Todd said these reports don’t tell the whole story.

“If the calls are being made by the owners, those are the ones we want,” he said. “What I’m concerned about is when the calls indicate a level of violence.”

Councilman Todd said every city is having issues with BYOB clubs. In Cedar Rapids, all three clubs have permission from the city to operate but don’t regulate beverages being brought in. Todd said they are just starting to make changes.

“It seems we don’t have a real clear mechanism in place to enforce when these types of situations arise,” he said. “We may have to pull together some ordinances that already exist, such as the dance hall ordinance, or other restrictions.”

Changes that Harrison said he too would like to see.

“People don’t always go to bed at 2:30 a.m., but we also have to make sure that they’re safe and not causing a problem,” Harrison said. “It’s kind of a catch 22.”

City staff said any recommended changes would likely be brought before the Public Safety and Youth Service Committee.