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No need for Darth Vader tactics downtown
The owner of F.W. Sullivan's weighs in on the problem.

 The owner of F.W. Sullivan's suggests that a Neighborhood Watch or hospitality association address downtown issues.
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 11/9/2012


--As a businessperson, entrepreneur, lawyer, law professor, bartender, nonprofit co-founder, musical artist, talent manager/developer, and arts enthusiast, I heartily embraced the opportunity to bring my passions to your town when your economic development department recruited us.

Originally, we planned to launch F.W. Sullivan's Old Town Bar and Grille in the old Fatty J's space in late 2010, but a legal dispute between the tenant and landlord thwarted those plans.

During the summer of 2011, property owner Tommy Mitchell called me--the economic development department had given him my number--and offered to show us the space where three prior restaurants had failed: 409 William St. We looked at the space and imagined what it could be.

Ultimately, we opened Sully's Fred there a few months later to great success. Then one night in early January, an out-of-towner broke one of our windows, the media sensationalized the story, and we suddenly became a community villain. Huh?

The history has been recounted, and I am tempted to restate the transpiring events, which indeed include your City Council wasting your hard-earned tax dollars playing Cowboys and Indians in our backyard and re-enacting the stormtrooper scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" in front of the Virginia Partners Bank ("Luke, I am your fatherrrrrr"). I state publicly here as I have privately: The police can search anything or anyone, anytime, at Sullivan's: We run a 100 percent clean and legal business. If you want to count incidents, the city riverbank has yielded more arrests than all downtown restaurants/bars combined. Get your own house in order.

I suggest three action items.

First, there should be a downtown Neighborhood Watch or hospitality association to address downtown issues that arise and will increase in number as downtown becomes a busier entertainment district.

My business partners and I will create such an organization so local residents and businesses have a forum to communicate concerns that can be addressed professionally without bothering City Council and the police every time someone sees someone litter. This body can interact with local police and the council to communicate concerns and evolve downtown organically.

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