City inspects businesses to curb Shockoe Bottom violence

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 8:31 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Shockoe Bottom employees like Zack love to make people feel good, which is why he says he wants the bad actors out so the customers he serves keep coming back.

“Come on down! Everybody is taking care of their customers. That’s our job,” Zack said. “We want people like we’ve been having, but the people causing this foolishness - don’t want them, don’t need them.”

He’s referring to the suspects responsible for last month’s shooting on North 18th Street that left a man fighting for his life.

“They just tear up the town for no reason. We don’t need that,” Zack said. “In this city, every morning is breaking news on TV that somebody has gotten murdered, somebody has gotten shot. Enough.”

Ever since that shooting, he says the city has been paying businesses like the one he works for more frequent visits.

“It brings the ABC board, the fire marshal, and all the other people to our doorstep,” Zack said.

“This is a really great neighborhood and with a little bit of work we could really be an asset for the city,” said Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier.

According to business owners, the city’s building commissioner’s office, in addition to fire marshal, has been checking for violations for things like alcohol licenses, building occupancy, if dancing and music are allowed, and how long businesses are staying open.

Businesses say the city believes if they can make sure the restaurants, bars, and clubs are following proper regulations then they may be able to limit some of the crime happening outside of the establishments.

Zack says if it curbs violence, the inspections are welcome

“As long as you know your business is on the up and up, they can come. Our doors are open. We have nothing to hide,” Zack said. “We just don’t want them to think that all of the foolishness that’s happening down here is happening at our doorstep. It’s not wanted.

The Virginia ABC confirmed that since the most recent shooting in Shockoe Bottom, it has not issued any citations to bars, nightclubs, and restaurants near 18th Street. Richmond police say they’ve also not ordered any business to close early, but they are urging people downtown not to store guns in their cars, put valuables in the trunk, and to lock their vehicles at all times.

A spokesperson from Richmond Police says violent crime numbers are slightly lower than this time in 2021 and that the department continues to implement focused public safety measures and devote considerable resources to the area.

NBC12 has been in touch with Richmond’s building commissioner multiple times about the nature of the visits to various places in the area. So far they have not responded to our request for comment.