HAYWARD — Optimism and faith in the management of a new downtown nightclub overrode community concerns about crime and alcohol in the area for the City Council, which approved the venue Tuesday.
The Me Restaurant and Lounge will occupy a B Street storefront next to Newman Park, near the intersection of Mission Boulevard. It will function as a family-oriented restaurant most of the time, with Sundays dedicated to youth-oriented talent showcases and televised sports.
Concerns about the application stem from the use relegated to Fridays and Saturdays: From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., the facility would host a nightclub featuring live music and DJs, geared toward young adults.
About a dozen residents spoke against the idea, saying it would tax police resources and could cause problems at the park. Ten people spoke in favor of the club, although most were affiliated with the applicant or not from Hayward.
"If all these Oakland residents like the club, I suggest they have it in their town," said Chuck Horner, a pastor and community leader. "This is not a Buon Appetito, it's not a Buffalo Bill's. This is another Kumbala (nightclub). "... It's a gamble, and, God, I hope I'm wrong."
In approving the plan, the council added requirements that club security keep an eye on the park and clean it up after nightclub events. Other conditions include a police-approved security plan and noise regulations. The club also agreed to enforce a dress code and a "no in-and-out" policy.
Councilman Bill Quirk made the motion to approve the club, saying that additional people in the area on weekend nights will be a welcome presence.
"I honestly believe the park would be a safer place," he said, comparing it with the turnaround of Central Park in New York City after measures were taken to increase activity there.
While they were among the four other members joining Quirk's vote, Olden Henson told the applicant that "fresh from our experiences with Kumbala, the leash is kind of short," and Kevin Dowling advised that "if it is not safe, I will not hesitate to vote to shut it down."
Dissenting votes were cast by Councilwoman Barbara Halliday, who said an additional alcohol outlet in the area is not a good idea, and Mayor Michael Sweeney, who objected to a code modification that eliminated a ban on new alcohol vendors within 100 feet of Newman Park.
"It's good public policy, and I cannot support changing the ordinance," Sweeney said. "As much as anything else, alcohol has been a problem use that has hindered the growth of downtown."
Club owners said they hope to have the club open by March.
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Reach him at 510-293-2473.