Chesterfield bars plan protest over dancing ordinance

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A protest is planned for Friday morning to speak out about a dancing ban at some Chesterfield County bars that were were cited for operating as a nightclub without a permit.

Patrons are warned about the no dancing rule right as they walk in to County Rib & Ale House on Hull Street Road.

The owners there as well as at Mulligan's across the street received a warning from police after people were spotted dancing. Both were cited for operating as a nightclub without a permit.

Chesterfield County defines a nightclub as any place that serves alcohol, has live music or entertainment and dancing.

County Rib & Ale House were denied a permit in May 2007 for excessive calls for service. On top of that, restaraunt's owners were cited for not having a current business license.

Last year, police say they went to the restaurant 51 times for drunk and disorderly patrons. They said in four cases, officers were assaulted.

Paul McDaniel, who does marketing for County Rib & Ale, says the bar has a strict security and dress code and that he can't control what happens when patrons leave.

"A lot of times, those incidents happened beyond our control and off of our premises and property," said McDaniel. "Yeah, we're being singled out."

At Mulligan's, a large banner on the wall prohibits dancing.

"When people come and see the band they want to dance," General Manager Joe McGinn. "I literally stand here to make sure no one dances in front of the band."

Last month, McGinn was also cited. He says he doesn't know why he was denied a nightclub permit in October 2006.

According to County Planning, both bars aren't zoned for nightclubs. The owners could face a $2,500 fine and jail time for each citation.

McGinn says the scrutiny over dancing couldn't have come at a worse time.

"We were doing okay and barely making ends meet and we've lost $30,000 in sales this month," McGinn said. "That definitely puts us in the red."

Friday, the bar owners and patrons will speak out at a protest at the Chesterfield County Administration Building at on Lori road. The event begins at 11 a.m.

Copyright 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.