Parkview owner: 'Stop harassing us'

Pub owner tells her side of the story as to why Brown Deer shouldn't close her beer garden

Sept. 5, 2012

Brown Deer - After a 60-day probationary period, the Plan Commission and later Village Board voted to revoke Parkview Pub's conditional use permit, closing the pub's outdoor beer garden and recreational space. North Shore NOW caught up with owner Jill McNutt to find out where she stands on the matter.

Question: Explain the vision you had when you bought the bar and applied for the permit in 2008.

Answer: I want the backyard to be a part. I want it to be a place where people can come and hang out and do regular things. I'm building the berm in the back so if someone wanted to come have a small wedding they could do that, maybe have cookouts out there sometimes. The horseshoe players could have leagues. It's just people getting together and being real like you do in a backyard.

Q: Have you succeeded in that?

A: I think that the culture that's been built here is altogether a family culture, and I think it's a very healing place to be. People come in after a day's work and get rid of stress. Some people don't have families, so they come and they hang out and they have people to hook up with, and we have fathers who bring in their sons on their 21st birthdays and it becomes their tradition to come in and have a beer together. People aren't coming here to get trashed, and people aren't coming in to cause trouble. They're coming in here because the atmosphere in here - it emulates real life.

Q: Village officials say that, in 2008, it would have been clear that they wanted everyone scanned. Chief (Steven) Rinzel says, when he has had you in to talk after particular incidents, that he made the department's stance clear. What has been your understanding of the conditional use permit?

A: The conditional use permit says that the scanner needs to be used to make sure that no underage people are in the bar, and that it needs to be utilized in the backyard and in this establishment. (The police) are telling me that they want to scan every person that walks in the door, and make a list of every person that walks in the door of this bar, on demand. I think that's unwarranted. I think that's an invasion of my patrons' civil rights, and I'm unwilling to take attendance in the bar.

Q: Do you think it is reasonable that you should scan every patron that comes in?

A: No. I don't … Having them have to scan in to be here pretty much says that this is not a safe place to be. This is a place where you have to be kept on record. (The police) don't have that right.

Q: The incident rate here is still higher than average - significantly higher, according to the police - and they see the scanner as a tool of enforcement.

A: The only people who come to this bar to cause trouble are the Brown Deer police. When they show up, people get nervous. People get paranoid. They're harassing. They came in and harassed one of my bartenders to the point where he defied my instruction as a business owner. They told him to scan every person who comes in at this bar on a Friday night - there were about 25 people in here. So he went to scan everyone who was in here, and 20 people left. There were five people left in the bar.

Q: Moving forward, how do you and the village, in your perspective, work together?

A: Everything can be just fine. All they have to do is respect my customers' civil rights, stop interfering with the livelihood of my employees, and stop interfering with my business. Stop telling my bartenders what to do. Stop

Q: Is the scanner, in your opinion, a legitimate tool of enforcement?

A: No. It's my equipment, and I use it to make sure there are no underage people in the bar. We don't allow underage people in the bar. Never have.

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