Thursday, March 20, 2008

(Deep) Thoughts on the Skybox Closure

Nearly three weeks after the Ciy Council decided not to renew various licenses for the Skybox Bar and Grill, the owners of Skybox decided to drop their appeal to the state and closed their doors Tuesday night. Here are a few thoughts regarding the closure of Skybox Bar and Grill:
  • Brown Street will be harmed in the long run.

Yes, we all know Brown Street has its share of, um, interesting characters and events. Considering the gradual exodus of hipsters from Portland to Westbrook, though, the Munjoy Hill neighborhood in Portland is a good example of what Brown Street may look like in the future: It has the potential to be transformed from a history-rich neighborhood with a soiled reputation to a thriving and proud neighborhood that features diverse businesses within walking distance of its neighbors. A bar (and other businesses that attract people, activity, and all the other things that make life worth living) should, therefore, be seen as a good thing to have in a neighborhood. But by essentially admitting that the rejection of Skybox's various licenses--and the bar's subsequent closure--had more to do with the bar's location than its conduct, the City Council is setting a frustrating precedent for future small-business owners. It's too bad this debate seemed to be more about Andy's Tavern than Skybox or the future bar that might complement the other businesses involved in the revitalization of this potential jewel of a neighborhood.

  • City Councilors need to get out more.

Is anyone else a little disturbed that one of the city councilors voted to effectively shut down this small business ripe with improvements and investments, despite admitting he'd briefly been to bar only once? Call me naive, but I think the most effective way to know the city and businesses you are governing is to, you know, actually experience it for yourself a few times. It would be interesting, therefore, to poll the councilors to learn how many times they actually frequented Skybox, or any of the other businesses they're responsible for regulating (cough, tattoo parlors, cough).

  • It was nice knowing you, Profenno's, Mill Side Tavern, et al.

Actually, I'm just kidding. Does anyone actually think the other bars in Westbrook will face as much scrutiny and suffer the same consequences as Skybox? Yeah, me neither. But if they do, I'll applaud the City Council for its consistency (Profenno's did, after all, generate only four fewer complaints to the Westbrook Police than Skybox from February 2007 to 2008).

But then I'll mutter profanities because by consistently shutting down the other bars in Westbrook, the council will effectively hamper the city's ability to attract younger people and give its citizens something to do without being forced into the car (or the bus) en route to other cities to spend their money. To be fair, the City Council (especially the councils before it) deserves credit for playing an instrumental role in cultivating Westbrook as a destination spot for an increasing number of Greater Portlanders. Now it's their jobs to protect our appeal and to grow it.

Shutting down solvent, law-abiding small businesses is not a step in the right direction.

- John C.L. Morgan

1 comment:

Bruce said...

All thru the ongoing process of closing the Taveren on Brown St.
it has always intriqued me that our councils goal was to beautify
Frenchtown", lwadin me to wonder what town I live in w/in city?

I am sue no patrons will have any problem walking to Profennos' from Brown Sty. neighborhood.On the return trip,how high is the railing on bridge? Maybe they can drive!

SAocial engineering and property developement are two illegitamate functions of government. Our city leaders have been too involved with both the last ferw years.