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Downtown liquor licenses scrutinized

Frequent problematic behavior and a high number of alcohol-related incidents downtown have put three licensees in the spotlight for police scrutiny.

Stop n’ Shop Market, the Vinyl Club and O’Ryan’s Irish Pub are the businesses facing increased scrutiny, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara told City Council at its Sept. 4 meeting.

Stop n’ Shop Market, at 110 Lithia Way, is the only downtown business that sells to-go, single-serving alcoholic drinks, O’Meara said, which has made the market “a focal point of negative behavior downtown.”

“The vast majority of open-container tickets issued in the city of Ashland this year so far have been centered around the Stop n’ Shop, and there’s a lot of other negative behavior that goes along with that,” he said.

O’Meara initially asked the council to “negatively endorse the liquor license renewal” for the market, and said he planned to ask the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to put a restriction on the market’s liquor license, restricting it from selling single-serving alcohol.

O’Meara later reconsidered his request to council, however, stating in a phone interview Thursday that he’s meeting with Stop n’ Shop’s owner instead, attempting to see if changes can be made without having to restrict the license. He said he is “optimistic that the owner can mitigate changes.”

“I realized it was important to work with the operation at hand first, before going to City Council to make a negative recommendation regarding their liquor license renewal,” he said.

O’Meara said if problems persist, however, he might “officially request to restrict their liquor license in the future.”

The Vinyl Club, at 130 Will Dodge Way, is also a point of concern in the area, according to O’Meara.

In November 2017, a Vinyl Club bouncer inflicted serious facial injuries on a man during a dispute about the man re-entering the dance club. The bouncer was charged with a felony count of second-degree assault — which carries a mandatory-minimum 70-month prison sentence under Oregon’s Measure 11 sentencing law — in April.

Aside from the November incident, O’Meara said to the council last Tuesday that “most of the violations centered on the allegation that seems to be substantiated that the bouncers were not licensed by Department of Public Safety Standards and Training,” and that the owner was allowing the bouncers to operate under his certificate.

The Vinyl Club faced a fine of $4,620, O’Meara said.

O’Meara said there were 17 cases pulled from the Vinyl Club in the last year. There were 17 the year prior, and 12 the year before that.

He said there were 14 complaints of unreasonable noise coming from the Vinyl Club in the past year. In the year prior, there were six, and the year before that there were 15.

“Everything seems to be kind of business as usual at the Vinyl Club,” he said.

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub, at 137 E. Main St., is also on the police force’s radar.

In a memo to City Council, O’Meara said that in the past year, the pub received a violation from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for “failing to provide adequate food service.” He said the pub is currently required to use an age verification device for its patrons.

O’Meara said the pub was the site of 23 cases in the past year, compared to 25 the year prior and 27 the year before that. There were 14 calls of disorderly conduct in the past year, compared to 21 the year prior, and no assaults were reported to have occurred inside the bar in the past year.

“The owner of O’Ryan’s Irish Pub, Mike Szelong, continues to work with the police department to mitigate problem behavior at the I-Pub,” he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Morgan Theophil at mtheophil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4485. Follow her on Twitter @morgan_theophil.

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