An uncertain future for a campus staple: What’s next for Taylor’s Bar and Grill?
Taylor’s Bar and Grill is an iconic stop for University of Oregon students, but the bar’s future is full of uncertainty. Last weekend, the Register-Guard reported that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sent Taylor’s a notice on Wednesday, August 22, recommending the cancellation of the bar’s liquor license. The notice listed 29 serious infractions ranging from fights and druggings to DUIIs as justification.
The incidents could cost Taylor’s its liquor license, but the bar’s owner, UO alumnus Ramzy Hattar, says he is talking to OLCC “on a daily basis” and is planning on having a hearing with the commission.
“Times are different, and the era is different and we have to provide more security and be more aware of the current climate and current risks and the only way I can succeed in that is working with the OLCC and the UO,” Hattar said in an interview with the Emerald.
Hattar, who bought the bar in May 2017, said that he has sent in an appeal but has not yet scheduled a hearing with the OLCC. After the appeal, Taylor’s will have a hearing in which an administrative law judge will recommend a settlement that will then go up for debate at a commission meeting.
Hattar is the owner of River Pig Saloon, a restaurant with locations in Portland and Bend. Hattar says that the River Pig Saloon has a positive relationship with the OLCC, but owning a campus bar has been a different experience.
“They’ve been really good to work with,” Hattar said of OLCC. “The whole Taylor’s thing is a little different situation because the nightlife cycle on campus is high volume and very different than what I deal with at a regular bar or restaurant. The volume of students showing up in that two hour period between between 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. is a lot of pressure on a bar, and it’s the nature of the beast.”
OLCC spokesman Matthew VanSickle said in an interview with the Emerald that the serious nature of the infractions will affect the commission’s decision.
“Since there were 29 violations and their license is up for renewal the commission is recommending that their license not be renewed. It’s pretty extreme,” VanSickle said. “[Not renewing] doesn’t happen all that frequently, there’s been a few incidents where it has happened in egregious incidents like this.”
VanSickle wrote in an email statement that no other bars in Eugene have received notices like the one that Taylor’s received. Despite not receiving any notices, Eugene Police Department call logs show that there have been a number of incidents at other bars.
Max’s, for example, has seen 112 incidents since 2013, including nine fights, 11 disputes and eight assaults. In that same time period, Taylor’s saw 176 incidents, 48 of which took place since May 2017, when Hattar bought the bar. Webfoot saw 45 incidents, including nine assaults, five disputes and three fights.
The OLCC listed several incidents of DUIIs in the notice to Taylor’s, and Hattar wrote in a statement to the Emerald that he hopes the introduction of Uber to Eugene will help students get home safely. Hattar described patrons gathering outside as “a big part of the problem.”
Hattar said that he has been working to make Taylor’s safer for students. Taylor’s has imposed a $5 cover for non-students, which allows the bar to focus on its student patrons. Students are now required to bring valid student ID if they don’t want to pay the cover charge.
“If you’re a student you go through the non-cover line and the other line is for people who don’t have student IDs,” Hattar said. “The other line makes sure that non-students are there for the right reasons, and it allows us to manage the crowd and allow students to get in first.”
Taylor’s also added flood lights to the outside patio to provide better lighting — a feature Hattar said will help capture incidents caught on security cameras. The bar also has six trained security personnel at all times on busy nights, and invites UO and Eugene police to park next to the bar.
The efforts to improve Taylor’s go beyond providing better lighting and imposing a cover for non-students. In December 2017, Hattar met with Kerry Frazee, UO’s director of prevention services, and UOPD to discuss prevention and safety.
Since the meeting, UOPD has coordinated a training program with a number of campus bars, including Taylor’s, to develop methods to keep students safe. UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver told the Emerald that the department is working with bars to train their staff to recognize signs of over intoxication and predatory behavior.
“It was a student-driven idea to start the program at UO,” McIver said. “The office of Dean of Students have been an enthusiastic and willing partner as well as UOPD. We’re close to launch now, but it hasn’t been launched yet.”
One aspect of the program is code words for women to tell bartenders if they find themselves in situations in which they feel unsafe, and the bartender can assist them.
Although it is uncertain when the OLCC will decide the fate of Taylor’s, Hattar said that he is focusing on the future of the bar and improving communication with his staff.
“I wanna focus on what we can to do to keep Taylor’s around now and for future generations,” Hattar said. ”I want it to continue to be an institution that carries on memories for students and student athletes for now and forever.”
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