Kraken's closure is all fish tales. Here's what happened...
Today’s U-T full-page-headline: LIVE MUSIC SILENCED AT KRAKEN NIGHTCLUB.
Bands booked to play the seaside nightspot were told on Tuesday that their shows were cancelled indefinitely because the owner was “worried that a series a recent noise citations over his loud music would cost him his license,” said the U-T article.
But the reality is that neither the City of Encinitas nor the state ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) were ever anywhere close to enforcing any type of radical license change. The self-imposed music moratorium was called off the day the article came out.
Melissa Beach, local director of the ABC said her department didn’t even know about the plans to stop live music. And City of Encinitas planning director Jeff Murphy says the publicity over the music ban was “disappointing” and “unnecessary…It was [the owner's] choice to discontinue the live music.”
Kraken owner Ron Crilley would not comment. But his actions triggered this confrontational screed on a facebook page run by fans of the Kraken: “The city is harassing the new owner and basically shutting down all live music. We need YOU Krakenites to contact the city council, the mayor, EVERYONE that this is unacceptable…. All bands have been cancelled through the end of the month…”
The facts, says Murphy is that there is no reason for the drama. He said the Kraken was late in filing its application to renew its annual entertainment permit application July 6, but that the city was happy to allow the Kraken to continue presenting music under the old permit while the new one was being processed.
The Kraken hosts music seven nights a week. Two different bands (first blues then rock) play on Saturday and Sunday. All shows are free admission.
Artists such as the Farmers, Custard Pie, Stone the Giant, Jake Loban, and many others rely on the Kraken for a regular, paying gig.
The initial outrage sparked comments like this from Dana Stewart, frontman for Kraken regulars Planet X: “As a professional musician for over 35 years, this is one of the greatest travesties I’ve ever seen happen to a venue.”
Hundreds of pro-Kraken signatures were forwarded to city hall. “The emails that we have received that claim the city has revoked their entertainment permit simply are not true,” says Murphy.
Today Kraken issued a “never mind”-type announcement. Bands were notified that Crilley’s self-imposed two-day music moratorium was cancelled and they could come back and play after all.
Part of Kraken’s anxiety is surely due to the two-year-old community outlash against bars and loud patrons in downtown Encinitas. Many locals would speak in front of the city council complaining about specific downtown Encinitas bars. But the Kraken, two blocks away, was not usually a target of their wrath.
Last week former mayor Teresa Barth wrote in a Coast News letter to the editor: “A handful of local businesses are serving alcohol in an irresponsible way — a way that promotes public drunkenness, DUI-related incidents, and a host of other problems… Nuisance related activities like public urination as well as more serious crime have also become more prevalent. And all of this generates more police calls for public service, tying up law enforcement resources.”
What may have triggered Crilley’s skittishness is that for the first time Murphy says the city recently issued two citations against the Kraken for having music that was too loud.
Murphy says those citations were triggered by neighbors and that sheriff deputies actually monitored “the amount of noise that left the property.”
Murphy says he does not think that the city of Encinitas should act as a referee in these conflicts, but that it is up to the Kraken and all other local bars to provide proper sound mitigation as any responsible business owner should be expected to do.
Murphy says Kraken’s new entertainment permit which should be issued in two or three weeks could allow the Cardiff bar to continue business as usual or maybe mandate that music stops at a specific time, like 10 p.m. for instance.
The fact that the Kraken even exists in 2015 is a treat to many of its fans. Known as a biker bar in its earlier years, it preserves funky Cardiff even though it is right across the street from the beach and is situated alongside pricey restaurants in Cardiff’s beachfront Restaurant Row.
“I think it’s someone with a lot of money who wants all those drinkers to go somewhere else far away,” says Stewart of Planet X. “I think they are trying to turn Encinitas into Leisure World. These people want nothing but strip malls and corporate restaurants. They want to stomp out the local entrepreneurs and the local culture.”
Eddie Vandiver, frontman for Ramshackle, a regular Kraken band, poses this question: “There’s a restaurant bar two doors down called Tower 13 that has bands all the time. Why pick on the Kraken?”
“I know that our enforcement officer speaks to all the bars and restaurants along 101 to discuss and educate the bar owners on our codes and regulations regarding occupancy, noise, and patrons outside their doors,” says Murphy.
Three years ago, the Leucadian on Highway 101 was forced to permanently pull the plug on music. The ABC did get involved in that case. Director Beach said that the Leucadian’s liquor license was amended to have a “no music” condition after an employee was arrested selling cocaine on premises.
In the late '80s the Belly Up fought off neighbor noise complaints after spending $50,000 in legal fees and even more on costlier sound mitigation.