With the city of Chico trying to revamp its image, some are attacking the drinking culture by limiting the number of downtown liquor licenses, but for downtown business owner Will Brady it's driving the cost of doing business through the roof.
Brady is owner of the successful downtown restaurant The Banshee.
And now he is trying to take another liquor license and turn it into B Street Oyster Company right around the corner on Broadway.
In the process, he has poured about $270,000 into restoring one of downtown Chico's historic buildings.
But he says ABC, at the request of the chief of police, wants him to close at 11 p.m., stripping him of hours of operation and much needed revenue.
Brady says it's an attempt to squash a drinking problem with the student population, people who aren't even his target patrons.
“We're here for the Chicoans that live here all year long, and there are a hundred thousand of them,” Brady says, “and we don't serve the seventeen thousand (students) as our goal. I don't want to say we don't need them, we need them financially to come to town and give everyone a boost, but it's not our bread and butter.”
Brady says over the last 6-and-a-half years The Banshee has proven to be a responsible establishment, so his track record should earn him more credit.
And he says he shouldn't have to defend opening a restaurant downtown just because it also serves alcoholic beverages.
“There's no shame in that,” he says. “This is a bar, it's where we serve alcohol--and we serve food. It's an eating place. It's not one or the other. Some people will come and have a martini; some will come and have only oysters. I don't think you can separate one from the other. When you're a full service restaurant, you're a full service restaurant.”
Brady says the public feels the same way as he does.
In fact, in a 13-hour period over the weekend they gathered 750 signatures in support of letting B Street Oyster Company operate into the late night hours.
By the time he gets those signatures to the city, Brady says they'll likely number in the thousands.
We were unable to reach anyone at the city for a comment Monday.
But there is an internal affairs committee meeting June 24 where they'll take up the issue of how to deal with liquor licenses downtown, so this hot-button issue has a ways to go.