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Friday, July 28, 2006

The Pizza Menace

Posted by on July 28 at 12:47 PM

This week, as part of the Stranger’s ongoing coverage of Mayor Greg Nickels’s crackdown on nightlife, I wrote about an Alki restaurant called Slices Pizza, whose liquor license application the city has opposed because some residents fear it will lead to public drunkenness, noise, litter and underage drinking. Slices owner Patrick Henley, seeming bemused by the imbroglio, told me, “It seemed pretty basic for a pizzeria to get a beer and wine license.” Nonetheless, the city has asked that Henley and Slices co-owner Tom Lin sign a “good-neighbor agreement” agreeing to certain conditions (typical good-neighbor requirements: no noise, no litter, extra security, no outdoor seating) before it will relinquish its objections.

Curious about why the city would view a tiny pizza joint as such a clear and present danger to the West Seattle beachfront strip, Stranger news editor Josh Feit and I ventured out to Slices on a recent weekday night.

Unfortunately, the tiny shack, which also boasts a postage-stamp front yard (from which the city believes patrons will be tempted to pass beer and wine to people on the sidewalk) was closed at 9pm. But we took some pictures (sorry they’re tiny; blame my camera phone):




As you can see (or not), Slices is basically a tiny shack with a single counter, a couple of seats inside, and a tiny front yard. The idea that it would somehow turn into a “beer garden” after hours (meaning when? between 8 and 10, when Slices closes?) is pretty tough to swallow.

(City Attorney Tom Carr says the city negotiated a good-neighbor agreement, which centered on “an assurance that they would monitor the front yard” for illegal activity, with the pizza joint, but Slices ultimately refused to sign. He also says Slices could always decide to extend its hours, serving the late-night beachgoing crowd until well into the evening if they wanted to. However, he adds, “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, serving pizza and beer. I’ll probably go there myself.”)

Of course, if people really had their heart set on handing booze to passing minors while munching a slice of pizza, they could always go down the street to Christo’s, where Josh and I enjoyed a Greek special (feta, Kalamata olives, and spinach) while drinking wine (me) and a frou-frou mixed cocktail called an Orange Crush (Josh).

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The good neighbor agreement should also require them to serve lo-fat pizzas, the city's rational basis being to keep spandex-clad chubbies off the beach.

Geez, way to hurt a guy, Napoleon. What did I ever do to you?

What has happened to the folks at Slice is a joke! You are right to highlight this story and to ask how this can happen in our City. It is also a perfect example of why I think that the Mayor is on the right track with his Nightlife Commission.

Rather than being subjected to the whims of self absorbed neighbors or out-of-their-depth city staffers, establishments like Slices should be subject to the decisions of a single, uniform body. A group that has representatives from night clubs and small businesses (as well as rational neighborhood reps).

Imagine a world without one-off Good Neighbor Agreements, but rather standardized, easy to understand rules and codes of conduct.

While there may be some disagreement over the fine details of those rules, the general concept is one of the best things that could happen to nightlife in this city in a long time.

I think The Stranger needs to go beyond the alarmist hyperbole and look at more examples like Slices to see how things really go down in this city. By continually mischaracterizing the Mayor's plan as Anti-Nightlife, you risk destroying our one great opportunity to change the screwed up system that we all suffer from today.

Looks like a nightclub to me. If you squint real hard at the first picture, you can see what might be a tiny disco ball in the third window from the left.

Those pizza eaters are out of control. The chewing, the constant chewing. It keeps me awake at night. Fuck you, pizza eaters. Not in my back yard.

Here's a thought: Why don't they grant them their liquor license and THEN see if there are any troubles? Hmm? Hmm?

But when you've got a Benaroya living down the street, it's best to be proactive. Or rather: When you've got a Benaroya living down the street, you damn well better be proactive, lest you have the mayor's office come down on your ass hard.

(It could be that the Benaroya moved. But no matter; there's plenty of rich people in this town with the mayor's DID on their speed dial. )

But mark my words: If slices had applied for a beer/wine permit twenty years ago when Alki was just a collection of dumpy beach houses, no one would have blinked an eye.

This thread makes hungry.

And thirsty.

This thread makes me feel like dancing.

Out of random curiosity, do you follow the word of the day ("imbroglio" recently)?

You couldn't get a liquor license on Alki 20 years ago!!! The location was too close to the school (no liquor within 600 ft, now it's 300 ft). The issue is the size of the building (it has a capacity of 13) and I can't believe you didn't mention it... but it only has one potty! So, the city doesn't want every shack in town to have a kegger in the front yard every night of the week. Why can't the owners just sign the LAME agreement? And maybe add an additional toliet??? They've been open for two summers and they can't attract enough patrons with pizza alone. Did you try it? Sounds like you opted for Christos down the block (a real restaurant with seating indoors and two bathrooms)---Why is that?

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