Fiesta Gets Feisty

Alley Cantina was trashed after closing early last Sunday sometime early in the morning. The local restaurant saw $900 worth of damage done to its outside area where chairs and plants were removed or destroyed.

Mike Bamkier, the owner and operator of the long-standing restaurant, said the damage was significant.

“They took all the flags away, plants - smashed them all down, stripped them all. All our lights, they stripped our lights away [after we closed], we closed about 12[am]. It happened between 12 and 9 o’clock when I came in” said Mr Bamkier. 

“It was about $900 worth of damage, mainly plants, lighting and flags – special stuff we bring in from Mexico which is a shame.”

Mr Bamkier said he intended to file a complaint with Police, however he believed little could be done given the time it happened and the location of the venue. 

“We can get cameras in, but it’s so dark in there and so narrow its very hard to pick up anybody anyway. It’s just one of those unfortunate things. It’s just an extra ongoing cost.”

The vandalism followed an incident earlier on Saturday night at Gong Wok, an Asian restaurant located on Moray place that caters to BYO groups. Critic received reports that a BYO party were aggressive towards staff and were seen throwing food as they left. However the owner of the restaurant who wished to only be named as Yen said the incident was not “major”. 

Mr Bamkier, who has owned the local restaurant and former the Fever Club for 20 years, said he believed vandalism from patrons was part of a current “cycle” of drinking culture. Alley Cantina formerly included Fever Club which opened late on weekends. Mr Bamkier has closed Fever Club recently due to a lack of profitability and fear of vandalism.

“The reason we’ve [started closing] is because of vandalism. We’ve done it all up and we just can’t afford the damage. Unfortunately, now with all the pre-loading, people don’t have much respect for the premise. The sad part is I started closing earlier because of the damage and then it gets damaged outside. Ironically that’s just the way it goes” said Mr Bamkier.

“Unfortunately there is a bit more vandalism going on [than in the past], but it seems to be after 12 o’clock. That’s why I’m not opening, mainly because of the vandalism. It costs too much now. It’s not just the vandalism, we get a lot of pre-loading now and people aren’t spending as much when they go out. And that’s why a lot of [bars] have closed now because there is no profit in it. You have to sell [alcohol] so cheap to get people in, but when they’re in they are damaging so much. It’s just a cycle. I’ve been through lots of cycles.”

Mr Bamkier said that students were not the sole cause of the developing “pre-loading” culture.

“Well no you can’t attribute it to any one person, it’s just the drinking behaviour. But it does come back to students because students are 18 and over, hence it naturally is going to be the students. You can’t complain or criticise that because when I started [the drinking age] was 21,” said Mr Bamkier.

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2016.
Posted 10:21am Sunday 10th April 2016 by Henry Napier.