Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Fish Heads holds history of violations

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Tuesday, April 18, 2006

PALMER—The Matanuska-Susitna Borough received numerous phone calls Monday about customers and employees under 21 being turned away at the doors of the Fish Heads Bar & Grill on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. After researching the issue the Borough learned the following:In 2002 Fish Heads owner Bob Stevens designated his entire bar and bowling alley a licensed premise for alcohol. Because of that designation Stevens needed a restaurant designation permit to allow people between the ages of 16 and 21 to enter without an adult. Youths, ages 16 to 19, cannot work in a business where alcohol is served without the permit either. Stevens never got the state permit. Stevens is not being singled out by the Borough as he claims. "Our system is a complaint-driven system. If there was any other business that had complaints we would follow up," said MAT-SU Mayor Tim Anderson. "He, alone, is responsible for his actions." In March, Fish Heads received a notice of violation after an investigator for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in February saw a bartender sell alcohol to a girl under 21. Minors were also seen playing video games in the licensed area. And, two employees under the age of 21 entered the bar, according to the violation notice. Stevens was given 10 days to respond to the violation and explain what action he had taken. Apparently Stevens waited until yesterday, well past the deadline, to correct the problem. Yesterday, Stevens met with ABC staff. He modified his liquor license so that it no longer includes the whole building but less than half the building. The Fish Heads bar shares the same building with a bowling alley where adults and kids bowl. Yesterday, Stevens blamed the Borough for his troubles with the state board and directed a host of parents to call the Borough complaining. The ABC Board is reviewing a possible renewal of the liquor license for Fish Heads. The Borough is protesting that renewal. As part of the review process, the ABC Board asks local governments to comment on applicants. Under its renewed protest, the Borough will advise the ABC Board that:Fish Heads has six court convictions of violating the Borough noise and vibration ordinance. Owner Stevens is also charged with violating the Borough adult entertainment code for hosting a strip-tease show and for presenting adult entertainment called shadow dancing. Those charges are pending. While the Borough supports an entrepreneurial spirit, such business cannot prevent families from getting a sound night's sleep. Soon after Fish Heads opened, the Borough received many complaints from nearby residences about loud noise continuing into the early hours. Stevens and Fish Heads continue to create unwanted noise. The renewal of the liquor license is scheduled to go before the ABC Board this Thursday in Anchorage. For more information contact Mayor Tim Anderson at 745-9682.