Would-Be Bar Asks for Exception to Davis Moratorium

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DAVIS --

For more than a year now, the building at 330 G Street in Davis has been locked up.

Once the Little Prague, a well known Davis eatery, it was on its way to becoming Blondies restaurant and sports bar.

Then something happened...

In September, 22-year-old Peter Gonzales was stabbed to death in another, nearby restaurant and bar.

In response to public concern over what Davis police say is an increase in violent crime along the G Street corridor, city leaders put a stop to opening any new places that serve alcohol.

"Yeah. Somebody got killed. Somebody got knifed," said Will Davis, a long-time Davis resident.

But the developers of the future Blondies are asking the city for an exception to the moratorium, saying they already bought the liquor license and paid for plans to renovate the Little Prague.

As part of their plea, they attached pages of letters, written in support of the exception, by business owners and managers in the area.

"For us, it'd be more business," said Andrew DeLuna, who works at another local restaurant. "It'd be much better."

The battle here is not over just one night spot, but over the character of this corner of downtown itself -- with the city contemplating new rules during the moratorium that have the potential to sharply limit nightlife here.

Among the policy changes they are considering, are earlier closing times for new establishments that serve liquor, beer and wine.

An 11 p.m. closing time is being considered for most days, and an even earlier closing, 10 p.m., for holidays like Halloween and Cinco De Mayo.

It's sparking an existential debate over the nature of this college town.

"If my wife went to the library and her car broke down at 11 o'clock at night -- I would not be afraid for her to walk home. That's how safe Davis is. But it's turning into something different now," Davis said.

But many business say rules like that would interfere with commerce, and are only a reactionary response to the murder of Peter Gonzales.

"It's Davis. That was something nobody was expecting. So it shouldn't be a problem if everybody keeps to their limits and is responsible," DeLuna said.

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