By Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:04 PM CDT, October 17, 2012
Chaos and gunfire at closing time in Old Town led to a new law aimed at breaking up early morning crowds.
"If you have one bad incident that happens, it affects everybody's business as a whole," Club Rodeo owner Eric Ragain says. "Somebody like us in the middle of nowhere we don't really affect anybody."
But the ordinance also does away with a loophole that has allowed bars across the city, including Club Rodeo, to offer a free buffet with a cover charge and count that as food sales. So Club Rodeo and a handful of others will have to start selling more food in order to keep letting in 18 to 20-year-olds.
"We feel we have a lot of restrictions," Ragain says.
Those restrictions also include having to close a half hour earlier which Ragain says may be necessary in Old Town but not at places like this.
"I think this really does pertain to Old Town," Ragain says. "You have an entertainment district that has a lot of businesses that are kind of close in proximity."
Even though the council cannot pass an ordinance that just pertains to one area of town, Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz says these changes should be citywide anyway. He says the city never intended to allow cover charges as food, so that's an overdue fix. Meanwhile, as far as clearing people out at closing time, Stolz says police will focus on the trouble spots.
"It's like any other law," Stolz says. "If we have problems in a certain area, we are going to maybe enforce differently. But the law is fair and equitable across the city."
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