Press Club

A-Town Grilled by County Board Over Drunken Brawl

After a brawl earlier this month outside A-Town Bar & Grill in which two men were tased by police, the bar will be subject to stricter county reviews.

The County Board approved a plan Tuesday for staff to review the bar’s permit for live entertainment and dancing in one month, then have the Board review it again in three months. Previously, the permit was up for Board review every six months.

Co-owner Mike Cordero said the two suspects — one of whom was dressed as Pikachu, according to police — were A-Town customers, but had been cut off and escorted out. Cordero said the incident took place two hours after they left, and not on their property.

Board members agreed A-Town must work with the county to fix the problems being caused by unruly patrons.

“I think what we have to come to grips with, regardless of whether you want to take responsibility or not, there’s a problem with this establishment in terms of what happens with the patrons when they leave, and what they do to the wider community,” Board member Christian Dorsey said.

A staff report found police responded to A-Town 38 times between September 20, 2016 and March 17, 2017. Board chairman Jay Fisette said the quantity of calls is less important than their content.

“The number doesn’t mean anything,” Fisette said. “It’s the nature of the call, and what can be prevented and what cannot be prevented.”

Cordero and fellow owner Scott Parker said things are improving at A-Town, after incidents in previous years and a strained relationship with the County Board and staff.

But neighbors of the bar in Ballston bemoaned the behavior of some of its patrons after they leave. Many incidents take place during A-Town’s popular “Sunday Funday” festivities.

“Enough is enough of this [neighborhood] degradation,” said Theodore Gebhard, a member of the Altavista/Berkeley Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Homeowners. “It needs to be addressed by the county.”

Lee Austin, a resident at the Altavista condo building, decried an “irresponsible business model” where people who are already drunk are still served alcohol. He also read an email from a neighbor recounting who witnessed “egregious sexual behavior” on the patio, behavior he said is damaging to the neighborhood.

A meeting will be held tonight between A-Town management and Arlington police to discuss the brawl from earlier this month. Further discussions will be had with the fire marshal and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers.

Photo (#3) via Google Maps

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