In the near future, when someone in Solano County asks you to show them the way to the next whiskey bar, Jim Morrison style, you can direct them to Dixon.
The Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 to approve a use permit for Whiskey Barrel, a proposed lounge and pub in the former Bank of America building in downtown Dixon.
Barring an appeal to the city council, the site will be remodeled to serve as a lounge, bar and concert hall, with whiskey being just one of the things it will offer.
Associate planner Scott Greeley said a bid has been submitted by husband and wife Mickey Renger and Tiffany Fabiani for the vacant building at the corner of North First and East B streets. The former bank site has been vacant since 2017 , and at 5,106 square feet, Greeley described it as the largest unoccupied space in downtown Dixon.
Fabiani said the goal is “to create more synergy with our downtown area by creating a safe event and trade show space that provides more regional attraction and appeal.”
Features include a 1940s style cigar lounge, live concerts from touring artists of various genres, specialty tasting in the former bank vault available by reservation only, corn hole tournaments , digital darts, life-size chess board, karaoke nights, dance nights with a live DJ, shuffleboard, pool tables, 200-inch pop-up TV showing live professional sports and events UFC Fight Night, mimosa brunches on the terrace, a non-alcoholic menu for non-drinking customers and a comfort and appetizer menu.
“We never intended to compete directly with our downtown restaurants, but rather to be an additional complement to the additional dine-in environment that is currently lacking downtown,” Fabiani said.
Suggested hours of operation are noon to 2 a.m. daily with live music scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Greeley said staff received a comment that the project would be a good use of space and bring a boon to downtown, while others raised concerns about potential noise, traffic, safety and the perceived overconcentration of liquor licensing in the region.
For the noise issue, Greeley said staff recommend an acoustic engineer come inside the building and identify areas where noise could be mitigated.
Regarding traffic, Greeley said the project was submitted to the engineering department for review, and while traffic was not a concern raised, issues were raised regarding parking.
“The downtown commercial area actually discourages off-street parking,” he said. “It seems there are better uses for these critical downtown areas than just having off-street parking.”
However, Greeley said the site has 17 current parking spaces, but with the expansion of outdoor seating this would reduce the number to 15. However, he said that was more than most downtown businesses.
Fabiani assured that safety would be a priority.
“We want this to be a safe space for everyone to enjoy and not be a facility for the rare beer and whiskey drinker looking for trouble,” she said. “We will operate in class and expect our guests to behave in class as well, and if they cannot they will be excused from the premises.”
Fabiani said she and Renger also plan to have six uniformed security guards on most nights, outnumbering service workers.
Regarding the overconcentration issue, Greeley said the city requires that certain public convenience or necessity (PCN) determinations be made for certain types of liquor licenses, namely types 20 and 21, the first of which authorizes the sale of beer and wine for off-site consumption. and the last of which allows the sale of beer, wine or distilled spirits.
Whiskey Barrel is looking for a type 48 license, which is restricted to lounges, taverns and cocktail lounges and does not require a PCN determination.
“It’s really not uncommon in the city center to have restaurants, bars, pubs and, yes, alcohol is one of those things that is frequently sold,” Greeley said.
Because of this, Greeley said overfocus is a matter of perception.
Additionally, Fabiani said he received a disclosure letter from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) which determined that there was no Whiskey Barrel licensing overcrowding in the downtown census tract. city, which allows no more than eight of that specific type. Currently, she said there are only five in use and Whiskey Barrel will be the sixth.
Commissioner Janet Koster pointed out that live music ends at 10 p.m. and asked if that also included weekdays. Fabiani said live band music would end at 10 a.m. but exclude DJs, karaoke and other amplified sounds. However, it would be limited to Friday and Saturday evenings and not working nights.
“We’re very aware of that,” she said.
During public comments, several callers spoke in favor of the project, citing its potential benefit in bringing people downtown as well as Fabiani and Renger’s due diligence in ensuring it was operated safely. However, a caller who did not give her name felt that there were inconsistencies in the types of alcohol allowed in the census tract and that “nightclubs” were not a conditional use for the downtown under the city’s zoning code.
Community development manager Raffi Boloyan said the nightclub categorization was based on how ABC categorized it, but the Downtown Commercial Zoning District has a “bars and pubs” category, which is more in line with what the city considers.
“This type of use is permitted, subject to a conditional use license, which is the process by which this project is underway,” he said.
On ABC licensing, Boloyan said liquor licenses are issued by the state, not the city, so any inconsistencies or errors belong to them. He also said that the types of licenses cited in the census tract are not all the same, as some are restaurants that can serve beer and wine while others are purely bars.
The commission voted 6 to 1 to approve the conditional use license with a stipulation to approve security cameras. The only opposing vote was from Loraine Hernandez-Covello, who supported the project as a whole but felt that further consideration was needed on the design of the outdoor space.