Curfews Coming for Norfolk Nightclubs?

by James A. Bacon

Norfolk police are cracking down on downtown nightclubs in the aftermath of another shooting incident, this one resulting in a sheriff’s deputy and three others being wounded. The city will expect all businesses in the entertainment district to explain why they deserve the “privilege” of operating, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

City Manager Chip Filer said businesses’ conditional use permits will be “evaluated,” and City Council will start asking “hard questions” about whether it wants any establishments on Granby Street open past 2 a.m., according to the newspaper.

Late-night businesses should prepare to explain to Council why they should be allowed to continue operating downtown, the city manager said. “Make no mistake: operating downtown in Norfolk is a privilege.”

The injured deputy was helping other law-enforcement officers address an altercation at the Legacy Restaurant and Lounge early Friday morning. They were attempting to move people out of the club when 25-year-old Tyshawn Gray allegedly fired into the crowd.

Reports the Pilot:

The shooting highlights the struggles the city has had maintaining a safe nightlife environment in recent years. Filer commended the city’s staff and the businesses for their recent efforts in correcting issues with overcrowding, long lines spilling into the streets and loitering that were common around the time of a triple homicide in March. He added that while the problems outside have subsided, the challenge now is to address the problems that start inside.

“You are no longer able to claim immunity for things that occur outside your establishment when we can find evidence that creates no doubt that the genesis of the activity occurred in your establishment,” Filer said. “You will be held accountable for those actions.”

“Make no mistake, this latest event is now the end,” he said. “We have tried cajoling, we have tried asking, we have tried incentivizing, we have tried begging. Those days are now over and the repercussions will now begin.”

Bacon’s bottom line: Police intend to address the shooting epidemic by holding business owners accountable for what occurs inside their establishments. One obvious measure would be for nightclubs to forbid anyone from bringing firearms into their establishments. Applying pressure on proprietors seems to be a reasonable short-term response to the problem. But will the measures work, or will they just displace violence to other locales?

One might ask the question why there is a surge in gunplay occurring in the first place? Is the reason that the nightclubs have gotten more lax? Or that more people have guns? Or that the Code of the Streets is gaining legitimacy among young people? Or that changes in the criminal justice system relating to bail, parole and/or prosecutions mean unrepentant lawbreakers are spending less time in jail? Or some other reason entirely?

It would be useful to know. Otherwise, police may find themselves playing whack-a-mole.

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24 responses to “Curfews Coming for Norfolk Nightclubs?”

  1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

    I had to blink twice to make sure that the Virginian-Pilot’s article was written in 2022 and not 1967. My family moved to Norfolk in 1967, and everyone familiar with the area warned us that “downtown” Norfolk was a $#!+hole, and indeed it was. That was 55 years ago.

    In 1967, I had already left home, but not my younger sister, who was “sentenced” to Granby H.S., not too far from the downtown squalor. Two years later, my parents fled to Virginia Beach, largely to give my sister a better high school experience. (She graduated from Bayside.)

    Moving ahead 55 years, there is no business reason to allow the “clubs” to remain open into the wee hours. The clubs that remain open that late do nothing more than facilitate drug and sex transactions . . . and violence. The only effective answer is to enforce a midnight closing (at the latest). The savages could still shoot it out on the street, if they wanted to, but at least it wouldn’t be inside.

    Nothing has changed in the last 55 years. Think about that.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Granby HS is miles from downtown. Maury in Ghent was way closer. Downtown didn’t start until Princess Anne Blvd on Granby Street. All of Riverside was between Granby HS and downtown. Plus, the Lafayette river was between them.

      Bayside! Sheesh. Over Granby? They didn’t do their homework.

      To be sure, damned few wandered around downtown without knowing which blocks to avoid except to go to the Lowes and the Norva theatres, both on Granby Street around Plume, but the Freemason area was home to at least three 5-star restaurants even in the late 60s, not to mention the playhouse. I wish I could remember the name of the French restaurant. Took lots of dates there and then walked to the Recovery Room for drinks and to shoot pool.

      The toughest part about most of the downtown was moving east from Granby to Tidewater Drive.

      Three cheers for Mayor Duckworth! He got the prostitutes off the street corners and back in the doorsills where they belonged.

      FWIW, downtown Norfolk was far safer than East Oceanview. Remember the Jolly Roger?

      1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

        Thanks for the geography lesson. Granby H.S. was probably closer to Hampton than it was to Downtown Norfolk. And, I had forgotten about the Lafayette River, if I ever knew about it at all. (I never lived there, and it shows.)

        My parents did have some issues with Bayside, too. My sister finished 9th in her class (of over 500) but was not accepted by William & Mary. I think they thought that Bayside — which was new — did not have high academic standards, and that was held against her. BTW, did you teach in the pubic schools?

        You touch on a very important point: Tourists are being warned not to tour in “downtown” [pick a city] at night. We enjoy going to New Orleans, but now we are cautioned to take a taxi from our hotel to our restaurant when we are going out to dinner. Strolling down Royal and Bourbon Streets at night is a non-starter now. And that is what we have heard about Norfolk’s entertainment district.

        I do remember the Jolly Roger. What a frickin’ dump. And in the meantime, the clubs near Oceana NAS went into steep decline, too.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          No. Not a ps teacher. The roughest places in town all had one thing in common — walking distance to a naval base. The Jolly Roger had that walking distance AND the Renegades MC, buncha 1%ers.

          One night a friend and I stopped at the Matador (on Silversprings Rd) for food before bar hopping. As we were leaving, three guys pushed past us and started shooting the place up. We hauled buns outta there with our hair on fire. A real live western shoot’em up with tables overturned and everything.

          From there we went to the Jolly Roger. Just got our beers and sat down at a table near the door when a shot rang out. Took our beers with us.

          Decide to go to Ahab’s further west in Oceanview. It was owned by a Norfolk cop. We walked in with our beer from the Jolly Roger, sat at the bar and finished them and ordered two more while watching the Olympics. The PLO terrorist attack was on the TV.

          Not a fun night.

          1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

            A harrowing experience (on TV and in person), that is for sure. I eventually found my way to the Peppermint Lounge at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. I went looking for it about twenty years ago, and was sorry to see that it had been leveled. And making it worse, Bill Deal was dead. Eventually, I started dropping by Fort Story. (I was an army officer.) It was a lot like “An Officer and a Gentlemen,” with young ladies crowding the bar looking for a husband, or so it seemed. Back to the theme: I think the bars stay open too late.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Never went to the Peppermint. Never saw Big Deal and the Rhondels. We used to follow Slapwater Jack and Road Apple Red to the dance places in the 70s and early 80s, mostly at the 5th National Banque, or the Cellar in Williamsburg.

            Disco Baby! Yech!

          3. Lefty665 Avatar

            Q What happened to you?
            A I was hit by a bread truck.
            Q What was he doing?
            A Hauling buns.

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          Pro-forma – Do NOT walk in ANY city at night unless you KNOW its okay and even then it’s risky business. That goes for NYC, Philly, Baltimore, Richmond, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, etc, etc, etc..

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            And some in daylight. D or R, it doesn’t matter.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            correct. Not D or R. Not in many other countries – not about politics as much as it is about the human condition. No kind of left or right governance is a “solution” unless you want soldiers in the streets, etc.

            Making it about D or R is dumb partisan posturing.

      2. Lefty665 Avatar

        Thanks for the post. You recall vintage Norfolk well. Brings back memories.

        My ex went to Granby HS and enjoyed it. Mother in law had a shop on Colley Ave also near a theater I think. Brother in law had a nice older apartment just off Colley, around Redgate maybe, it’s a long time ago. In the 70s and 80s it was as you say, know where it’s ok and keep your head up, just like in any city.

        The Jolly Roger and old time Navy liberty town Norfolk are long gone along with the roller coaster at the amusement park. I presume that the Seals and places around Little Creek and Dam Neck still have their moments.

        As I recall it the high school cheer was:
        We don’t drink, We don’t smoke,
        Norfolk, Norfolk, Norfolk.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          That was a cheer. The Rocket roller coaster was destroyed for a movie. The funny thing is they tried to blow it up with fixed charges and barrels full of gasoline for effect. It was supposed to crumble into a pile of burning embers. It took four days to finish the effect using cables and bulldozers. And Mom said it wasn’t safe!

          The humor is the thing burnt a couple of times in its life. The last time when a sailor threw a Molotov cocktail and half of it went up it hours. They just pulled the charred sticks down and nailed up new ones. Wooden coasters are great!

          The Naro theater on Colley. It’s still there, still running movies. It’s a fixture. When my daughter moved out, her first apartment was on Redgate at Colley Ave. She still talks about living there. Glad she listened to me. I lived up at the north end near 21st when I was at her age.

          Ghent (Colley Ave) from 21st to Norfolk General is the place to go, always was, always will be. Best restaurants, best bars.

          1. I rode that coaster the last weekend it was open. I also spectated at the first attempt at destroying it. Hilarious. Especially in light of all the letters to the editor over the years denouncing it for being dangerously rickety and ready to collapse.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Oceanview Amusement was the hangout on weekends. I wasn’t kidding about my Mom. She was thoroughly convinced that my friends and I were all going to die in a fiery coaster crash, even just walking past it. I don’t know where the fire would come from, but hey, does a mother have to be completely logical to be right?

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      Well heckfire, that sorta kills the idea that things have gone to hell in a handbasket of late… and takes us back to the more typical and longstanding (55 yrs+) Conservative viewpoint about such issues…

  2. Find out why it is happening. What a novel concept (sarc). Not likely. Making more useless burdensome rules is so much easier.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      This is a job for ABC! They have 1000s of seemingly useless rules until they use them to pull the liquor license.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Yep – that’s a real threat… to those businesses.

  3. Will parole boards and courts which allow criminals back on the streets be held accountable when those they release among the law abiding commit additional crimes?

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    More people have guns now than when Jesse James plied his trade. More people have faster cars and guns than when Bonny and Clyde were killing people.

    Crime is mobile, and no matter how fine your house, nor how quiet your street, murder can happen even in your little world at anytime. Anyone can do a drug deal that goes south in front of your sweet suburban hovel.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Here’s a observation.

    Virginia is not New Orleans. Bars don’t have to be here what they are on Bourbon St.


    Funeral processions do not happen on foot with the casket on a caisson, or carried on shoulders. There are no bands. There are no (paid) wailing mourners. It is not a show of affection. It is not a show.

    What it is, is cars. A long line of cars with the flashers on, going slow, escorted by cops who throw an entire city’s traffic flow into craziness for miles.

    Here’s an idea. Let’s do away with them. It’s just a last chance for the stiff to eff up life for people who couldn’t care less he’s gone, and a way to minimize, by minutes, the amount of time the minister works to get his money.

    Just let the mourners get in their cars and drive at normal speeds in normal traffic to the grave site.

    To the SOB who tied up traffic on Warwick Blvd for 1/2 an hour, good-bye!

    1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

      Hilarious! I think you must have been an extra in some of those James Bond movies. Maybe that dude popping out of the grave.

  6. Virginia ended capital punishment but it still exists on the streets. Under the previous law, you could get the death penalty for murder during commission of a robbery or killing a police officer. Now all you have to do is disrespect someone, spill a drink on them or fear for your safety and the guns come out. Those who live in constant fear arm up, and it’s not just those on Plume or Granby Streets. It includes people in the suburbs who think they are crime targets, keep weapons unsecured in their homes and cars, which are then stolen or used by screwed up family members. We have only ourselves to blame for this lax attitude, but it starts with allowing anyone over 18 access to any gun they want.

  7. Excellent. Norfolk City government has found another opportunity to foster corruption in public officials.

    Chair of the “Bar Review Committee”: “So, Mr. Night Club Owner, how much is it worth to you for us to give you this permit to stay open all night””

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