[Editor’s Note: The Bollard Report is a new feature on thebollard.com that combines the types of short news items previously published in Gossip and Briefs.]
More art thwarted in Arts District
Another business in Portland’s downtown Arts District has been prevented from offering art.
On a recent Wednesday evening, Pom’s Thai Taste, a classy Thai restaurant on Congress Street, allowed a solo acoustic guitarist to play soft instrumental music for diners.
That won’t happen again.
Pom’s is next door to Empire Dine and Dance, a restaurant and music club that has both a liquor license and an entertainment license. The city’s so-called “dispersal ordinance” — a law intended to reduce fights among crowds of boozers leaving rowdy bars at last call — prevents Portland businesses with both licenses from operating in close proximity (unless they were doing so before the law passed last year, like most Old Port bars, and are thus grandfathered).
Pom’s does not have an entertainment license, and because its front door is within 100 feet of Empire’s, they can’t get one.
Manager Rattanaphorn “Pom” Boobphachati said she’d thought a license was unnecessary if, as was the case with the guitarist, the musician is not paid to perform. Told that was not the case, Boobphachati said she would pull the plug on what was to become a weekly offering. She said her customers will miss the accompaniment.
“The customers liked it because no Thai restaurant [in Portland] has done that before,” Boobphachati said.
Despite her minor misstep over legal boundaries, Boobphachati is unlikely to face an official reprimand or a fine from City Hall. Alex Murphy, the city’s business license administrator, said her office has to receive a written complaint before they send out a code-enforcement officer, who in turn would determine whether the situation warrants the filing of a report that would be forwarded to the City Council.
Not everyone thinks Boobphachati did something wrong. Some councilors have expressed support for repeal of the dispersal law, but they do not constitute the majority necessary to make that happen.
Councilor Dave Marshall, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said action to repeal the law is on hold pending the possibility another ordinance proposal to help control drunken crowds will surface. Without another measure restricting or regulating providers of alcohol and music, the votes aren’t there for repeal, he said.
Pom’s is the second downtown restaurant known to be affected by the dispersal law. Shortly after it was enacted, the proprietors of Emilitsa, a Greek restaurant next to The White Heart, learned they would not be allowed to host musicians playing traditional music for their customers.
“We should not be surprised when art takes place in the Arts District,” said Councilor Kevin Donoghue, a supporter of the ordinance’s repeal.
— Patrick Banks