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Avoid Nightclub Disasters


Nightclubs and bars are supposed to be fun -- places to dance, hang out with friends, have a drink, listen to music have a good time. But the mix of alcohol, testosterone and a charged atmosphere can lead to trouble. And constant trouble can cause a bar owner to loose their license. All the work that went into the creating a great space and promote a venue can go for naught if security is not address and a bar is forced to close by the authorities.

Itís rare for a nightclub or bar to shut down right away. Usually itís a slow process; but the tell tale signs can be seen early and those owners who ignore those signs do so at their peril. Managers have to look at more than the nightly take to ensure the long-term health of a club.

First and foremost bars in are in business to make money. Revenue comes from alcoholic beverages, food, cover charges. The format of the club will largely determine the clientele, which will in turn determine the type of security needed. If your bar caters primarily for older people you are not going to need huge bouncers at every entrance and exit. A nightclub that markets itself to young adults as the new ďinĒ place is going to encounter more control problems.

These problems can be compounded by marketing efforts that encourage over-drinking -- cheap pitchers of beer, two-for-one specials, and over-pouring by staff. Then add to that lax security, over-serving alcohol, serving minors, admitting and serving obviously drunk people, and allowing access to the club by gang members or known troublemakers and you have a perfect storm for trouble.

Other security issues include failure to control violence in the parking lot, failure to enforce reasonable club rules. Failure to work with the police when issues arise is also a sure way to get unwanted attention from law and liquor law enforcement agencies.

These things donít happen overnight and no club or bar owner opens up with the intention of serving minors or making their parking lot a popular draw for knife fights. But by allowing things to slide a bar owner can see the money flowing in on Friday night only to see themselves shut down the following night and liquor license or city permits suspended.

Without a liquor license your trendy nightclub is dead in the water. The most common cause of revocation or suspension is simply failing to comply with the law. Selling to minors, serving after-hours, serving intoxicated persons for example

The city or county government is usually the authority that issue permits and business licenses. These permits are also subject to suspension. Numerous calls to the police department will usually lead to a review of the barís permits and warnings will be issued to get security concerns dealt with. Failure to heed those warnings can lead to permit suspension. Fighting in the parking lot, gun crimes, drug over-doses and over crowding will almost certainly draw attention and often sanctions.

Failing to involve the police in an attempt to reduce their involvement usually makes things worse too. Clubs that close are often the ones that fail to work with local law enforcement. Bouncers that are over zealous can often inflame potential situations and so need to have a good relationship with local police in order to manage escalating situations.

Closing time is also a potential source of friction. Club managers are often under the misapprehension that once patrons leave the club and spill out onto the street that is the responsibility of the cops to manage any concerns. It isnít. Bars have considerable responsibility to help mitigate any issues. Failure to do so will incur fines and or suspensions. In some jurisdictions, dozens of officers need to be summoned just to deal with the close of one nightclub, which is an abuse of police resources creates personal risks for officers and creates a bad feeling all round. And most of those concerns will not be communicated to the bar owner but only to the bouncers of the bar manager. And once the cops are angry with a particular bar, watch for undercover cops coming in looking for criminal activity, underage drinkers and drug use. Also expect visits from the fire department and even the health department. Itís a fine line between too much and too little police involvement but it is one that needs to be managed if a club is to remain successful and open.

Few businesses or residents want a nightclub next door. Traffic, noise, litter, drunken behavior, fighting and public urination usually donít endear a club to its neighbors. So it is imperative that club and bar owners work at building good relations with neighbors and maintaining good security is one of the best ways of doing that. If a bar has its license or permits suspended a vocal and angry mob of neighbors will make it that much harder to get a ban rescinded.

Most clubs and bars that are shut down, have a long string of warnings and citations. Ignoring the warnings is a sure way of ensuring the investment in the bar will be lost. Believing it will and being too focused on making cash is also a sure way to failure. By the time a bar is shut down it is often too late. And the time and expense getting a suspended bar open again can often prove fatal too.

Submitted by:

Kevin Marsh

Kevin Marsh is the editor of http://GayBar.com, the largest directory for gay and gay-friendly bars and nightclubs on the net. For more information go to info@gaybar.com





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