The objections of neighbors and the Summit Hill Association to a 2 a.m. closing time appears to be holding up the approval of new business licenses for Billy’s on Grand, 857 Grand Ave. A City Council vote on the licenses has been postponed twice, most recently to December 15. Council member Rebecca Noecker, who represents the Summit Hill area, asked for more time.

Billy’s has had a 2 a.m. closing for almost two decades. Neighbors contend it has led to property damage and late-night disruptions from loud patrons, revving car engines and drag racing. However, the bar and restaurant is under new ownership, and the new owners say they are working to run a good business

Billy’s new owners met with the Summit Hill Association (SHA) earlier this fall. There, concerns arose about a fatal shooting outside of Billy’s in September 2020. The SHA recommended city approval of the business licenses but wanted a 1 a.m. closing time.

Approval of the 2 a.m. closing has been recommended by city licensing staff and deputy legislative hearing Officer Nhia Vang. Vang stated in October that nothing in the new owners’ background and management of the business thus far warrants denial of the licenses. They must be given an opportunity to manage the business accordingly, she said.

Billy’s on Grand was owned and operated by Bill Wengler and his family for most of its 36 years. The business was sold in 2020 and sold again in early 2021 to DWD Group LLC. The new ownership group is led by restaurant and bar veteran Wesley Spearman, with Chuck Gilbert as manager. They have remodeled the interior and revamped the menu while operating under the previous ownership group’s licenses.

Spearman and Gilbert said they want Billy’s to be a good neighbor and respectful of the surrounding neighborhood. The owners met with the Summit Hill Association (SHA) earlier this fall. There, concerns arose about a fatal shooting outside of Billy’s in September 2020. The SHA recommended city approval of the business licenses but wanted a 1 a.m. closing time.

Concerns about late-night noise, problem behavior

Billy’s is seeking licenses for liquor on sale, Sunday liquor on sale, liquor outdoor service, class B entertainment and gambling. The bar and restaurant currently closes at midnight on Sunday through Wednesday and at 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. However, once the pandemic eases, Spearman said, Billy’s would like to return to the 2 a.m. closing time. 

Ten neighbors filed objections focused on the 2 a.m. closing time. Concerns were also raised about patron noise at other times, public safety and public nuisances as well as the gambling license. The objections prompted a legislative hearing in October as well as discussions with the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections on possible license conditions. 

One condition to which Spearman objected was the ending of all patio service by 11 p.m. and the vacation of the patio by 11:30 p.m. daily. That condition remains, although it could be revisited in the future.

Other conditions, which are similar to the operating conditions under previous Billy’s owners, include a city-approved video surveillance and lighting plan and an occupancy limit of 285 when billiard tables are present and 297 when all billiard tables are removed.

— Jane McClure

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