Toad’s To Hibernate
A legendary New Haven, Conn., club will close for three months beginning May 6th next year, following charges stemming from a November 2005 raid by police and liquor inspectors.
As part of its compromise with the liquor commission, Toad’s Place admitted to 45 counts of sales of alcohol to a minor.
Club owner Brian Phelps told Pollstar the raid occurred during a college dance party with an attendance of about 600 people. Authorities “sealed off all the doors,” he said, and “interrogated everybody and that’s how they came up with all the minors.”
Phelps said he has since fired the promotion company that organized the dance parties, popular with students from Yale and other surrounding universities.
“The promotion company that we were using, they were slipping people in the side door, unknown to me,” he said. “That’s how we became liable, because these kids weren’t checked.”
Since the raid, the club owner said he has made efforts to remedy the situation, including retraining employees and investing in some equipment to verify that patrons are, in fact, of legal age.
“Now, everyone that comes in, we put them through an ID machine,” Phelps said. “It takes a picture of their name and face and then we put a wristband on them so that you can be shown on a tape that anybody who got served was accurately ID’d at the front door.”
Phelps said on top of the $90,000 fine, he could lose another $50,000 to $100,000 during the closure, and will be laying off about 60 full- and part-time employees.
Still, in light of the settlement, two new franchised Toad’s Place clubs are set to open next year.
A 1,500-capacity Richmond, Va., venue will open in February or March and another 1,000-capacity facility will open in Trenton, N.J., in June, Phelps said. Groundbreaking is expected on the Trenton club this month.
The Toad’s Place Richmond Web site says the “new clubs will be meticulously modeled after the existing Toad’s Place. Franchise owners will be expected to follow precisely an exhaustive manual with details allowing for an almost scientific recreation of the Toad’s ambiance.”
– Dana Parker-McClain