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Title: Saloon owner: Nugget, Sparks city officials strong-arming him to raise prices
Source: Reno Gazette Journal
URL Source: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/poli ... o-saloon-sparks-nv/2033702001/
Published: Aug 16, 2019
Author: James DeHaven
Post Date: 2019-08-22 08:01:02 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 22

Victorian Saloon owner declares a one-man war over special event drink sales

The City of Sparks hauled off the Victorian Saloon’s patio furniture on Wednesday morning.

The move only added froth to a long-fermenting feud between the city and the stalwart dive bar in Victorian Square, where saloon owner Johnny Eastwick says officials are trying to force him to raise drink prices during popular special events promoted by the neighboring Nugget Casino Resort.

Such annual events include Hot August Nights, the Lavender and Honey Festival and the upcoming Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.

Eastwick said it would put him out of business to charge the Nugget’s drink prices during those events, which he said can account for up to one-third of the bar’s annual sales.

So when the Nugget asked him to double, or in some cases nearly triple, prices on booze sold from the saloon’s patio, he put his foot down.

Trouble is, Eastwick rents his patio space from the city of Sparks. After he refused to sign a new lease that would require him to abide by the Nugget’s price hikes, officials promptly confiscated his patio furniture.

“The thing is, for 20 years people have been coming to us because we have better prices,” Eastwick told the Reno Gazette Journal. “If all the sudden we double our prices, we lose all our customers. I’d rather lose my patio than lose our customers. 

Victorian Saloon owner Johnny Eastwick pictured outside his bar on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 (Photo: James DeHaven)

“All (the city) needs to do to stop this is rent us our patio and leave us alone.”

Eastwick, who bought the saloon 13 years ago, currently charges $2 for lemonade and soft drinks and $4 for beers, wine and pre-mixed cocktails. The Nugget wants him to charge $5 for soft drinks, $7 for lemonade, $7 for beer and $9 for most wines and cocktails.

He said he would consider taking the city to court if officials don’t back down.

“The Nugget brings in most of the money so they do whatever the Nugget tells them to do,” he added in a Thursday interview. “It’s not OK. It’s unethical. They demand we rip off the very citizens they claim to represent.

“The solution is very simple: Let us pay our rent and charge our customers what we think is fair. Let us run the business the way we want to.”

Sparks officials tell a very different story.

They say that Eastwick’s patio serving window is part of the public right-of-way, and that means any drinks served from there during special events have to comply with the rules laid out by the event’s promoter. In this case, that’s the Nugget.

Doug Thornley, Sparks’ assistant city manager, said the city only confiscated Eastwick’s furniture after he told them to take it.

Security camera footage captures Sparks city employees removing patio furniture at Victorian Saloon (Photo: Victorian Saloon courtesy photo)

“If those guys (at Victorian Saloon) want to sell beer for $4, that’s fine, they should do that,” Thornley said. “But if they want to participate in the special event, they have to work with the promoter.”

Thornley also provided a voicemail in which Eastwick warned a Sparks official that he would go public with the dispute if the city hauled off his patio furniture. 

The Nugget did not immediately return requests for comment on the ongoing dispute.

Eastwick didn’t shy away from the fact that two neighboring bars, Mummers and Paddy and Irene’s, appear happy to play by the casino’s rules. The owner of the latter bar declined to comment. Mummers’ owner could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Eastwick is standing firm.

“Nobody’s happy about getting told to change prices,” he said. “It’s absolutely morally wrong. This isn’t Nazi Germany.”

The Nugget’s annual rib cook-off is scheduled to start, with or without Victorian Saloon’s participation, on Aug. 28.

James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here

Poster Comment:

Eastwick better watch his back - he may just get a visit from Nicky Santoro.

Alternate text if image doesn't load

"I think in all fairness, I should explain to you exactly what it is that I do. For instance tomorrow morning ill get up nice and early, take a walk down over to your bar, and... walk in and see and uh... if you don't raise your f...in' prices, I'll... crack your f***in' head wide-open in front of everybody in the f...in' bar." (3 images)

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