"It all depends on what standards the neighborhood wants," he says. "The neighbors down on Washington Avenue have not been supporting clubs as much as froufrou bistro places."

Rainford believes that club owners need to modify their practices. Instead of hiring off-duty police as a "secondary" security force, he suggests the bars use on-duty officers instead and reimburse the city for their overtime.

"When they're on duty, there's no ifs, ands or buts about who they work for," he says. "If there's a knifing, there's no 'Maybe I ought to cover it up.' No. You call in the backup or you make the arrest yourself." He also believes that when clubs expect a certain number of guests, they should be required to pay for extra cops to patrol nearby streets.

Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
Jennifer Silverberg
Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.
Jason Stoff
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.

Tony Trupiano disagrees. Lure already hires more security than any other bar in the neighborhood, he says: twelve bouncers and three secondaries on busy nights. From the time guests walk in to the time they walk out, he insists, they're in no danger. As proof, he notes that Nick's girlfriend works at the bar. So does Rob's. They even bring Marlene Trupiano down there on occasion. Outside the club's doors, he believes, there's a limit to what they can be expected to secure.

"We can't police the parking lots or all of Washington Avenue," he says.

That attitude isn't helpful, Rainford says.

"If we all took that approach," he says, "then I would open up a hazardous waste dump on my property, and if the rain makes it leak on my neighbor's yard, that's his problem. But that's just not the way it works in a densely populated area."

Indeed, the Trupianos' refusal to budge on security has already proven costly. If city officials demonstrated nothing else in recent months, it's that they can make life hell for a club owner should they so choose.

And who knows: They may have to do so again soon.

On the same weekend night nearly two weeks ago that Lure showed such a dismal turnout by closing time, Lucas Park Grille — one block away — disgorged droves of revelers onto the sidewalk. The bar had hired a techno DJ for the evening. Out front, Washington Avenue was choked with cabs and cars jockeying to whisk away the bluging crowd of customers.

Developer Tim McGowan is the owner of Lucas Park Grille, according to state records. Yes, the same Tim McGowan who sits on the board of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, who signed the petition against Lure six times.

"Lucas Park is our biggest competition on Fridays and Saturdays," says Nick Trupiano, adding: "Maybe it's just my Oliver Stone mentality, but since all this stuff happened, they've been way busier."

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