The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 1st

Late nights fuel fights

Businesses pro?table in spite of damage

After the bars closed early Sunday morning, someone punched the co-owner of B-Ski’s restaurant in the face.

The victim, Brad Smith, knows that whether it’s a violent punch, a broken window or a spill of vomit, it’s just a cost of operating a late-night restaurant.

And he’s willing to take the risk.

Restaurants like B-Ski’s and Qdoba hire security guards and pay liability insurance to curb the risks of after-hours damage.

But despite potential damage costs, at Qdoba, where at least one significant incident with a rowdy customer occurs each week, general manager Chuy Butchart said the late-night hours are the most profitable.

“Staying open late is good for business,” he said. “Whether it’s to call the police or calm the customers down, we try to choose the safest ways to solve any issues.”

After North Carolina defeated Villanova in a 2009 Final Four game, a drunken customer broke the window near the North Columbia Street entrance to Qdoba, Butchart said.

That cost about $500 to fix, he said. But each weekend night, that blow is softened by a seemingly endless line for burritos and quesadillas.

“If the owner is open to keeping the store open late, we are willing to do it,” he said.

Smith said the fight at B-Ski’s Sunday stemmed from a group of rowdy men who were arguing near the bathroom when one of them locked himself in.

He said the others in the group began to try to kick down the bathroom door, at which point the owners asked the intoxicated men to leave the restaurant.

“They weren’t exactly cooperative when we confronted them,” he said. Smith and his brother were both punched, he said.

Smith said fights like this at B-Ski’s, which occur two or three times a year, aren’t enough to shorten his business hours — yet.

“If it ever got to the point where we didn’t think it was safe for customers, we wouldn’t stay open,” he said. “We just need to develop tactics to deal with the small percentage of people that cause problems.”

Other business owners aren’t as open to dealing with this clientele.

Trent Reisberger, a co-owner of Cold Stone Creamery on Franklin Street, said the incidents at other late night restaurants are good enough reasons for his place to close before downtown bars do.

“We thought about staying open late, but we thought people wouldn’t want ice cream. They probably want more greasy food,” Reisberger said.

“If business ever got to the point where we were struggling, we would consider staying open late, despite all of the headaches.”

Senior Daniel Thornton said it must be hard for restaurant owners to stay open late.

“But it’s probably good for business,” he said. “I guess every rose has its thorn.”

Freshman Lauren McKenna said that drunk customers can take away from her late-night dining experiences.

“It can be very obnoxious to other people who are not intoxicated,” she said. “I think it can reflect negatively on the businesses.”

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