Brewery owner taking downtown nightlife issues into his own hands

Tags: , , , , , ,

Submitted: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:54am
Updated: Mon, 10/17/2011 - 3:06pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Downtown Wilmington’s nightlife has been a big topic of debate the last few years. From bars trying to keep out members of the military to fights and even murders at and around clubs, the downtown scene has developed a reputation for violence after about 2 a.m. That’s caused one downtown business owner to take things into his own hands.

“In an ideal world we would have 20 officers down here every Friday and Saturday night late at night, but this is not an ideal world in terms of budgets, so they only have 10 officers,” Front Street Brewery owner Tom Harris said.

Back in May Harris hired the NOTTT Foundation to help with late night security downtown. With the city putting an end to the Nightlife Task Force a few years ago and continued violence, like a murder outside the Rhino Club in January, some members of the community are worried for their safety after the bars let out.

“(There’s) nowhere near enough police,” NOTTT Foundation Director Raymond Bates said. “I know we are short-handed a lot, and that’s the reason our company was hired to come out and assist them. Any given night we’re definitely out numbered out here.”

Despite the help of the NOTTT Foundation, which stands for Nothing Other Than The Truth, on this particular night there were a handful of fights and arrests. The continuing public safety issue has led Harris not only to hire the extra security, but to start airing a string of political ad about the problem.

“The city is not doing everything it can with regards to embracing free, no cost, common sense things to proactively try to help with the random sporadic late night violence that occurs downtown especially after 2 a.m.,” Harris said.

Harris hopes by forcing city leaders to face the issue something will finally change.

He says there were more police officers on the streets this weekend than usual. That’s because it was Riverfest weekend, which brings even more people to downtown.


  • Guest2012 says:

    Beautifully said! I loved your ‘right-on’ the money post.

    Get the word out, Boycott any business and/or Manchurian Candidate who smears or threatens our City of Wilmington’s Police, Fire, or workers.

  • Guest1983 says:

    I grew up in Wilmington. I have been away but visit quite often because I still have family living in Wilmington area, So heres my idea because I am active duty(offended by clubs turning people away just for being active duty…isn’t that illegal? Prejudice?) and been around to quite a few major cities along the east coast. I noticed it is a national problem closing bars at 2am and everyone filtering onto the streets at the same time. Groups of drunks = fights. How about this small city board members come up with a bright but simple plan of last call at 2am which is the law and then stagger the closing of bars some close at 2am and some close 3am like other Major cities are doing. Give time for people to sober up a little more as well as there isn’t a mob on the streets. Somebody will cry about this idea though. Nothing is simple any longer.

  • Getalife says:

    Not enough Police downtown? I have a solution for this problem – Vote Joshua Fulton for City Council! Mr. Fulton says the best way to help protect the citizens of Wilmington is to CUT police salaries. I mean even though some of the patrol officers for Wilmington qualify for food stamps, that is still too much money to pay someone that puts there life on the line so you can be safe.
    Mr. Fulton is also going to make the Police scared to do there job “Joshua will also push for the creation of a committee with citizen representation on it to investigate any reported complaints of police officers.” This is because we don’t want Wilmington’s police putting the handcuffs on Biker Joe, or Gang Banger Ra’sheeds to tight, because even though they just committed a assault, murder, robbery or rape. It might hurt there feelings, and we need to treat the criminals in Wilmington with respect!

  • GuestIshNess says:

    Maybe certain “bar owners” should start cutting people off before they get belligerently drunk and cause violence. The police do all they can with the resources they have been given but it’s a lost cause when the bars allow people to drink their weight in booze and then send them on their way.

  • Shanaynay says:

    because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the nott people downtown. Yet the place is COVERED with cops. Thanks Tom, I feel so much safer with your goons out. NOT.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …helping out with security? Is NOTTT in the business of providing security, and if so, since when? Do they meet the state requirements for a security guard business? Their website makes no mention of it….just wanting government to pump more money into low income neighborhoods.

    Glad to see that so many of you are telling Mister Harris what you think of his opinion by walking. While I never patronize Front Street Brewery myself, I have often recommended it to out-of-towners looking for some night life. That stops today.

  • Guestobserver says:

    Saturday night 2 am Riverfest weekend over 50 people were sprayed with pepper spray with the wind carrying it into a large crowd when the 2 mounted horse police officers sprayed into a crowd. Meanwhile on our way home 5 additional police cars were hanging out around what looked to be a DWI stop of 1 car, assisting? The cops revert from crowd control to potential DWI revenue at 2 am. That’s the problem.

  • Tom Harris says:

    In response to the implication of GKirk88 implying that my restaurant over-serves alcohol to “make a few bucks”, we close at midnight every night and are clearly not part of the problem of over-serving alcohol. We are also a restaurant and not private club (bar) and serve our full food menu every single hour we are open.

    In response to the other posts urging a boycott of my restaurant, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but if you ask Lieutenant Perkins who is in charge of the Downtown police you will learn that he supports my having the NOTTT foundation out on the streets after midnight every Friday and Saturday when the fighting is the worst.

    The purpose of my company paying the NOTTT Foundation to be out on the streets after midnight every Friday and Saturday night is to try to help defuse angry altercations before they actually turn into fights. They are not hired to do “security” on public property. That is one of the functions of WPD, and Lieutenant Perkins and his officers are doing a GREAT job of maintaining law and order and consistently arresting perpetrators of fights with the limited resources they have. Greensboro, for example, has fewer bars and typically has smaller crowds downtown late at night on weekends than Wilmington yet has approximately twice as many officers assigned downtown on Friday and Saturday nights than does Wilmington.

  • GKirk88 says:

    Maybe if the bars would stop serving individuals that are CLEARLY INTOXICATED, we would not have this problem. But, if you can make a few bucks, why not, right?

  • EJ says:

    If you think downtown is bad, then try going to Jacksonville of Fayetteville. IF you don’t want to go downtown then choose another area, Mayfair, Wrightsville. Keep in mind 30 years ago NOBODY would go downtown. Who do we have to thanks for cleaning up the area? The bars. Who else is going to pay $10,000-$15,000 a month in rent for buildings that are crumbling, and that barely make code?

    Try not to bite the hands that feeds, my friend. When the bars go, the revenue goes, and the jobs, and the tourists, then we will have our ole red light district back. I am sure thats what you want right?

    Out of the 50+ bars downtown there are at least a handful that fit you genre. Try out some of those before you group them all together.

  • Guest2012 says:

    Don’t blame law enforcement in our city, blame the element that you guys are attracting. CLOSE THE BARS,and QUIT hiring wacco groups. Attract middle agers with OUR MUSIC, which will QUICKLY get rid of the punks.
    I wouldn’t come NEAR downtown. You could not pay me, incentive me or bribe me to even consider putting myself in harms way in DOWNTOWN.
    It is LIKE BERUIT down there for Crying out Loud.

    I’d rather go to the southside of Chicago, The Bronx or any other city’s Concentric Zone, than to risk our life in the Bullseye of BAR HEAVEN, Drunks, ALLEY rapes of man on Man, THONGS on the sidewalks, um, need I continue. OMG!!!!!!!!!!

    Truth hurts. W.B., C.B., Mayfaire, Myrtle Beach….ANYWHERE but the “QUAINT” Historical Society’s Gem!

  • Boba Fett says:

    Great response…. the downtown does suck. Nothing nice about it at night. Unless you want to get wasted, attacked, or try to get lucky.

  • Guest123456789 says:

    Seriously….isn’t this a funny comment?

  • Boba Fett says:

    I do not see what the real story is in this. So some business owner is complaining about the crime issue downtown. What does he want? More resources thrown down there to help out his business? How about the rest of the City and the neighborhoods that are left unmanned while downtown gets the attention. I think he has already gotten much more than anyone else gets. If he has any more problems maybe he can spend his own money hiring more security of contract Police Officers. The tax payers should not take on any more burden to help him out. Maybe if its such a problem the business and property owners can pay more down there to deal with it.

  • Guest Citizen says:

    How in the world is this “foundation” helping anyone or anything downtown, at night? What more can anyone do there? There are contracted security, Police, and Sheriff Deputies.

    Maybe this guy needs close early and eliminate the problem before it happens, but that would interfere with the cash flow. So whats really important.

  • GA4life says:

    Were the Guardian Angels not available?

  • Guest123456789 says:

    What can I say…I want to try and get lucky!

  • Infiniti_HB says:

    Yes , your comment was hilarious…

  • Dj Milky Milk says:

    Indeed very funny.

  • JoeyC says:

    Hey Mr. Harris seems like you complain a lot about the Wilmington Police Department.were you not the one who hired a film crew to follow the police around and stop them from doing there job, to try to prove that they were not policing the streets. As for fights breaking out on the sidewalks. Here is a tip. Move your tables and chairs out of the way of people walking on the sidewalk then maybe the drunks wont have to squeeze just to get by. look in the mirror before you bad mouth the men and woman of Wilmington police department

  • Guest1313 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m glad there is SOMEBODY who remembers what downtown was like before the nightlife scene. If you want to see a high crime district, CLOSE the bars. Let the hookers, gang bangers, & drug dealers have it back. As much as everybody thinks that the simple solution is to shut down the bars, look at what they do. 80% of the liquor tax revenue that goes back to the city/county, keeping buildings occupied by paying outrageous rent, & provide entertainment for not only the locals, but the tourists as well. Not to mention that every move they make is criticized and you NEVER hear any good news that may come out of them. Let’s also forget the fact that if you close the bars, the idiots are still going to go somewhere else and they’ll still have to be dealt with. BUT, I forgot, you’re age group would definitely make up for the losses and stay out until at least 10pm before it’s time to get back to the nursing home

  • Guest2012 says:

    With all due respect, the BARS have cleaned up the downtown? Seriously?
    Is that why this article features the all too common picture of the guy sitting on the dirty street in handcuffs w/ the police around him?

  • pendi35 says:

    I find it interesting that the NOTT foundation is there to “help the police”. Of all the weekends i’ve been downtown the only time I’ve seen the NOTT crew even near a fight or any kind of altercation was this past weekend when the news cameras were filming. Then the NOTT crew were standing right next to the police as if they were actually doing something. What a sham!!! The only thing they ever do is take pictures or video of the police doing their job or according to the front street brewery owner, not doing thier job. Don’t let this article fool you. The owner of the front street brewery has a personal vendetta against the police department.
    Since the Rox and Rhino clubs have closed down I have seen a shift in the overall atmosphere of downtown, it’s a bit more relaxed. Of course your still going to have fights, whether it’s Marines, college students, or just regular people. Alcohol does not discriminate based on your color, race, yadda, yadda, yadda.

  • joeyc says:

    i will no longer have a drink at the brewery after reading this artical. i think people should follow in suit!!!

  • Guest333 says:

    It is OFF LIMITS for all of us, too!
    Mr. Jerk Harris.

  • Brock says:

    Several of the bars downtown actually hire off duty police officers to sit outside of their bars and to help stop problems. Yet there are still problems at these locations despite uniformed officers in plain view. Increased police presence will only curtail so many incidents. Alcohol impairs judgement. People will still fight, urinate in public, and so on.

    Yet still, the violence downtown isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was a year ago. Incidents have massively declined. Closing problematic bars and portions of streets has helped curtail some of it. Proactive alcohol licensing is also helping to styme the influx of bars to already over-saturated areas.

Leave a Reply