Police say club is a nuisance

Ben Godar

Citing the high number of calls for service over the past several

months, police officials are expected to ask city officials Tuesday

for a hearing to determine if Gitana Restaurant has violated its


conditional-use permit.

Under Gitana’s permit, the club can be charged for police calls in

excess of three per month. Police have billed the club almost $7,000

for excessive calls since October.


In May, the City Council asked police for a detailed account of

service calls to Gitana, 260 E. Magnolia Blvd. At Tuesday’s meeting,

police will recommend to the council that the planning board hold a

hearing to determine whether the restaurant is a detriment to public

health and safety.

“Based on the activity at this location, it is my opinion that

Gitana is creating a substantial adverse impact on the city’s police

services and constitutes a nuisance,” Police Chief Thomas Hoefel said


in a letter to the council.

Gitana’s co-owners could not be reached for comment Friday.

If the planning board decides to recommend a revocation hearing,

the council could consider taking away Gitana’s permit as soon as 20

days later. Part of Gitana’s permit stipulates that the planning

board hold a hearing before the council can take action on revoking

the permit.

Council members could not be reached for comment about the police


department’s recommendation, but at their May 27 meeting, Mayor

Stacey Murphy said the club did not seem to fit into the atmosphere

of downtown, and that she would be uncomfortable going near Gitana on

a Saturday night.

On June 18, police charged the club’s owners $3,302 for a total of

41 incidents from January through May. Among the disturbances police

responded to were a May 15 fight in the parking lot that required 17

officers and a Jan. 31 incident that required 14 officers and the

police helicopter.

In May, the club was billed $3,477 for 15 calls between October

and December.

According to spokesman Sgt. William Berry, police have not

received payment for either bill, though the department has no

immediate plans to take legal action to recoup the costs.

Since the first bill was issued May 16, Berry said it appears the

number of incidents at Gitana has decreased. Since the end of May,

police have been called to the bar twice -- once for a traffic stop

and once for a fight. But Berry cautioned that the figure does not

include any instances where an individual might have become

intoxicated at Gitana, then committed a crime elsewhere.

“If he becomes a danger to the public while in Gitana, we still

consider it a Gitana incident,” he said.