Taste reinvents itself as after-hours club

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A business some residents along Good Hope Street had hoped was closed forever reopened its doors to the public Friday night, bringing crowds, noise and restless nights.

The Taste is back -- but with no alcohol in the mix.

New operator Patrick Buck opened the club for the first time in more than two years. The previous business owner, Michael Pryor, who still owns the building, was denied a liquor license renewal by the Cape Girardeau City Council in June 2001.

"I can already see this is going to be blown out of proportion, but I don't see why," said Buck, who also manages the Phat Cat nightclub on Broadway.

He believes the after-hours club can make the streets safer because his patrons won't have been drinking when they head home from the Taste. He wants the neighborhood to give the new Taste a chance.

But his neighbors aren't buying into the new image.

Police received phone calls about the noise created by car stereos and crowds, said spokesman Sgt. Rick Schmidt. Some callers also said patrons were taking alcohol into the club. However, Schmidt said an officer watching the door did not see anyone carry alcohol inside.

Buck said anyone who approached the door with a beverage was told to surrender it and it was dumped. He said no one argued.

One person received a ticket for parking in front of a fire hydrant, and a few others were asked to move cars from a no-parking zone.

Resident Nelson Sparks is disgusted the city would allow the building to reopen as a club of any kind, considering its history.

"How could the city not know?" he said. "How could they let a business like that open back in our neighborhood again?"

Sparks was upset to see garbage left on the street after the weekend.

"They just clean their cars out," he said. "They think the street is their trash can."

'The devil hasn't moved in'

But Buck said he pays a staff member to clean the street each morning, and he encouraged his neighbors to contact him if their yards become littered, promising to have their yards cleaned.

"I don't understand the whole anti-Taste sentiment," he said. "At least now the streets are going to be cleaned up. The devil hasn't moved in next door. It's not that big of a deal."

Sparks was among a small gathering of neighbors who spoke with Schmidt Monday afternoon.

"The problem as I saw it was not coming from inside the building with the music playing, it was the foot traffic and cars going by," Schmidt said.

Kim Dodson of 302 Good Hope described her dismay at the late-night disturbances.

"Somebody left their dog in their vehicle right here and it kept barking -- and we sleep right up there," she said, pointing to a second-story window. "Plus, a lot of the noise comes from not only those going in the club, but from those just driving by to see what's going on -- and they keep going around and around."

Dodson has lived in her home for three years.

"It has been nice and quiet," she said. "Then all of a sudden this weekend -- I was shocked, just shocked."

But Buck said Good Hope Street hasn't been silent over the last two years.

"People have always hung out on Good Hope," he said. "They didn't just start hanging out when we opened the Taste back up."

'A lot of history to it'

He said the club was missed by many who wanted someplace other than a house party to gather.

"The Taste has a lot of history to it," he said. "I met my wife here. Just like the Glenn House has a special history for some people, this is our history right here."

Buck promises that if any incidents of violence occur, the Taste will close again.

"If we come to the point to where we have problems outside, we will shut down immediately," he said. "There's not going to be another melee."

Currently, patrons 18 years and older pay $3 at the door and can buy sodas or snacks from the bar. Pool tables, a dart board and electronic games are set up inside for entertainment. Buck hopes to later add a concession stand outside, next to the building, he said.

But no future plans include selling alcohol.

"We're legal," he said. "And we're not going anywhere unless we decide to."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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