Larry's Club

Larry Rice drafts the homeless in his fight against Washington Avenue bars

O'Leary says hip-hop night had nothing to do with neighborhood concerns. "Most of the problems from Tequila's resulted from inexperienced club owners taking over a license and not knowing what was expected of them in the neighborhood and doing things in violation of their license," O'Leary says.

Washington Avenue is no different than the Central West End and the Loop when it comes to bars abutting residential areas, O'Leary says. "There is certainly the potential for conflict if the situation isn't properly managed, and there has been conflict," he says. "Most of the basis for the conflict results from the conduct of patrons of the bars and clubs when they're outside of the establishments, which has been bad at times. There have been instances of cars blocking garage doors, public urination, excessive noise, excessive honking -- just various types of not-very-civil behavior. I don't think anyone thinks we should get rid of the clubs and bars entirely. I think everyone understands the residents are here to stay. So it's just a matter of trying to find a happy medium."

Neither O'Leary nor Hale rules out more protests that could scuttle more business plans. "The level of risk that a club or bar owner bears is probably directly related to how they conduct their business during the time that they're open," O'Leary says.

This is a problem that may solve itself if Washington Avenue rents continue to increase, forcing out the larger clubs that make ends meet with weekend parties that lure hundreds of customers. "I'm sure it will happen," Gray says. "I don't have to worry about that for a couple more years -- I've got frozen rent. You're here, I'm here, we either have to get along or there's going to be some serious problems.

"We try to get along, and that's the way I'm going to look at it until I have a problem," Gray says.

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