The same day the city of Port Orchard was drafting a letter recommending the liquor license for a popular but controversial downtown bar not be renewed, the Washington State Liquor Control Board sent a letter informing the city the bar was closed.
“All that was unnecessary,” said Port Orchard resident Neil Wollam, father of Mako’s Bar and Grill owner Julie Wollam, referring to the letter signed by new Mayor Lary Coppola.
Wollam said his daughter had not applied for a renewal of her license, and in fact had decided to close her bar nearly two months ago.
“I would think this would be pretty obvious,” he said. “A closed business looks very closed.”
Wollam said Mako’s was damaged, along with several other downtown businesses, during the heavy rains and consequent flooding in the first week of December last year.
“They fought like crazy for a week to clean up the mess,” he said, explaining that his daughter learned it would cost “about $1,800 of repairs to solve the electrical problems, and she flat couldn’t afford that.”
Now, Wollam said, his daughter and about eight others including security, kitchen and wait staff have lost their jobs.
“Quite a few people are out of work because of it — including her,” he said.
Merwil Guzman of the liquor control board confirmed that her office was notified by Mako’s that it was closed and had “discontinued sales and service of liquor … on Dec. 14, 2007.”
Guzman confirmed that her office did not send a letter to the City of Port Orchard until Jan. 18, which was received Jan. 24.
In the meantime, Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend and Mayor Coppola drafted a letter to the board detailing their struggles with the bar when it had been open, and requesting that its license not be renewed.
“The police department has diligently worked with this establishment over the last year to try to make corrections to the way they do business. However, we have continued to experience a great deal of police calls at this establishment,” the letter states. “In 2007, the POPD responded to Mako’s Bar 206 times for such calls as intoxicated individuals, assaults, and even major fight groups.”
The letter also reports that Mako’s “finished No. 5 in the state for the most ‘driving under the influence’ arrests with 37, and a high (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .253.”
In March of last year, the city sent a similar letter to the liquor control board advising them of an ongoing problem with the bar.
“People are getting hurt down there now, and we don’t want it to get worse,” Townsend said, explaining that “part of (the problem) is the clientele, and part of it is the bar.”
However, at the time he said he was still optimistic that improvements could be made.
“We are trying honestly to work with (Julie Wollam) and are hoping we can make it work,” he said, explaining that she had been willing to work with his officers to implement some changes including playing different music and establishing a dress code.
Three years ago, Townsend’s officers experienced similar problems with a former downtown bar known as the Harborside, which was also on Bay Street.
After several attempts by Harborside’s owner to improve operations proved unsuccessful, the establishment’s liquor license was not renewed and it eventually closed.