Another rowdy weekend for Harborside

Although the owner of the embattled Harborside Bar and Grill believes his recent efforts to solve many of the issues surrounding his establishment have been successful, Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend said two arrests and another noise violation last weekend are evidence most of the problems remain.

“What we’ve done has definitely cut down on some of the problems we’ve had there,” said Harborside owner Scott Hlinka, explaining the changes he implemented after his first meeting with Townsend last month have significantly reduced incidents involving allegedly out-of-control patrons. He said he is confident the remaining issues of over-service and liquor control compliance will be resolved after his second face-to-face meeting with Townsend today.

Townsend confirmed he was planning to meet with Hlinka today regarding incidents he said jeopardize the bar’s liquor license — including several DUI arrests, reports of underage drinking and illegal drink coupons found last week.

However, he said the two will still need to discuss the “ongoing problems” with noise and rowdy patrons taxing his police force.

On Friday, Hlinka was cited for violating the city’s noise ordinance, and on Sunday, Townsend said two men believed to have been drinking at the bar were arrested around 2 a.m. The first, a 26-year-old Bremerton man, was arrested for allegedly threatening a police officer, and the other, a 23-year-old sailor, was arrested for trespassing when a resident of Dwight Street called 911 to report a highly intoxicated man banging on his door, according to incident reports.

Townsend said these incidents were a continuation of the “the great deal of problems” his officers have had with the bar over the last few months since Hlinka took over March 1. Problems, Townsend said, that peaked June 25 and led to his first meeting with Hlinka the next day.

Today’s meeting will be the first between the two after Townsend sent Hlinka a list of requirements and warned “if we don’t see marked improvements by July 31, we will notify the liquor control board of our desire to deny (Harborside) their permanent liquor license.”

In the letter dated June 30, Townsend urged Hlinka to implement several changes in how he operates his business, including stopping serving alcohol a half hour earlier, instructing his security staff to encourage intoxicated patrons not to drive and making arrangements to have taxi service available. Townsend also requested an overall “plan to avoid over-service of alcohol to patrons” be submitted by Monday.

Hlinka said he will submit that plan to Townsend today, but said his bar has already stopped serving alcohol at 1:30 a.m. and his staff makes a point of offering to call taxis for customers.

Hlinka said the violation for the free-drink coupons last Wednesday was a misunderstanding because the certificates given to patrons were for non-alcoholic drinks, which should have been specified.

To address concerns surrounding over-intoxicated or underage customers, Hlinka said he invited a State Liquor Control Board officer to hold a two-hour training session on basics like how to recognize fake IDs, and to make sure his staff “was on the same page” regarding potential over-service of alcohol.

Hlinka said a lot of the problems with over-service were due to the bartenders being solely relied upon to cut people off, when they didn’t necessarily see all the behavior that the security staff witnessed, such as intoxicated people having others purchase more drinks for them.

Above all, Hlinka said he was committed to finding a way to keep his bar open.

“We put a lot of money in it, and didn’t open it to close it,” he said. “This is obviously something that the community wants and needs.”

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