Wilkes residents don’t take a shine to new ‘Red Apple’

At the Wilkes Community Group meeting in November, several issues were discussed. But when staff from the OLCC stepped up to discuss why the soon-to-be-built Red Apple Bar and Grill’s license was granted, things began to heat up. Read and learn BOTH sides of the story ‚Ķ

At the site where the Red Apple Bar and Grill will be built on NE Sandy Blvd. near 162nd Avenue, owner David L. Thompson checks the plans for the facility he says will include family dining.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The larger-than-usual attendance at the Wilkes Community Group meeting on November 14 learned that the north runway for the airport will be extended by 10,000 feet.

Some cheered when they were told that the site, once considered for a composting plant, will be purchased by METRO as a green space. News of a successful neighborhood clean-up – generating four dumpsters of debris, and $600 in donations – was welcomed. And, chair Ross Monn announced funding for the Wilkes Holiday Decoration Contest.

But, the main item on the evening’s agenda was the chance to grill Dan McNeal, Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Metro License Manager, and Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, Metro Licensing Unit, about granting a liquor license for a new establishment.

The Red Apple debate
Monn began by telling the group it looked as if the Red Apple Bar and Grill won a liquor license and would be built on NE Sandy Blvd. just west of NE 162nd Ave.

Dan McNeal, Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Metro License Manager, and Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, Metro Licensing Unit, listen as Portland East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs addresses the Wilkes Community Group.

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs stated, “I had some concerns about the Red Apple. At first, I opposed the OLCC license. I then met with the proposed owners. I looked over their business plan. There will be no live music, and it will be built with windows looking out the front.

While his position is now neither for nor against the bar and grill, Crebs continued, “If was my choice, there would be no liquor establishments in the neighborhood. But, the OLCC makes the final decisions.”

Neighbors concerns expressed
As McNeal and Grabe stepped up to explained the OLCC’s licensure process, they were peppered with potential problems which the people at the meeting said the new establishment might bring.

An individual read off a litany of problems, ranging from armed robbery to arson, that she said had taken place at the proposed owner’s previous establishment ‚Äì of the same name ‚Äì that had operated in North Portland for over a decade.

Another person stated there are many children in the area, making this a poor location. “They are bringing a night club in a residential area. Why would a person want to set up a bar here? This will bring property values down,” he said.

“Who can walk to this establishment?” another person posed. “It is going to increase auto accidents. My daughter catches a bus across the street; I’ll have to reevaluate this.”

The OLCC’s Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, and Dan McNeal, Metro License Manager, tell Wilkes residents why the license for the Red Apple Bar and Grill was granted.

After a long discussion, Grabe summarized, “The OLCC can’t refuse this license application. Our investigation shows the license may be granted. Applicant doesn’t have significant violations at their prior premises. Looking at crime statistics over last two years, they don’t meet the tests to warrant restrictions nor deny the licensee.”

Owner to bring “nice, clean establishment”
Absent from the Wilkes meeting was the new owner, David L. Thompson. After assuring him we weren’t the news source who had written an article quoting him without speaking with him, he talked openly with us. While not barred from the meeting, he said he was told “there was no reason to attend.”

“The area around our North Portland establishment is going downhill,” Thompson began. “After twelve years of renting, we wanted to have our own place.” He said they started considering the property, on which they’re building, three years ago.

The new Red Apple Bar & Brill will be 2,100 sq. ft. facility. “We don’t have a theme, like a sports bar,” Thompson said. “We’re planning on running a nice, clean family establishment, focusing on food. We’ll open at 10:30 a.m. and close around midnight or so. There is a lot of business along Sandy Blvd.; we hope to attract a good lunch crowd.”

Like most establishments, they hope to also obtain a lottery license. “In order to have lottery, you have to have a liquor license,” Thompson said.

Speaks of previous problems
At the meeting, neighbors brought up the “old” Red Apple’s two OLCC violations. Thompson said, “It’s true. One was for loud music. So, we stopped having music.” The other, he said, was for a new bartender’s serving an underage, undercover enforcement agent. “In twelve years, we never had another problem; not one.”

“I don’t understand why some people are against us locating here,” Thompson said. “It is not our intention to be a determent to the neighborhood. Most of our customers will come from around here. We are going to be on top of it. This investment is what will become our livelihood ‚Äì and our future.”

According to the OLCC, liquor licenses are renewed yearly. If there are problems at this new establishment, you can be sure officials will get an ear-full. If not, perhaps some of its harshest critics may become new customers.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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