By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The owner of the now-closed Johnny Bang Bang's nightclub said Tuesday that a national restaurant chain has decided not to open at the Front and Hampshire location because the Quincy City Council has failed to "make small, yet demonstrative improvements" near the site.
Duane Venvertloh, one of the owners of the property, said in a press release that the chain was troubled that the council was unable to pass an ordinance to make Front and Hampshire a four-way stop. The building is owned by Front Street Five Holdings LLC.
"Safety of its patrons is a brand standard, and while the site was otherwise perfectly suited for development, the restaurant chain was not willing to overlook this specific criteria prior to investing its capital," Venvertloh said.
The ordinance to make the intersection a four-way stop was tabled March 25 at the request of Alderman Jack Holtschlag, D-7, who said it would be brought up again within 45 days of the opening of the restaurant.
The city's Traffic Commission recommended at its Feb. 28 meeting that the City Council approve the sign, and the council agreed to have an ordinance drafted at its March 1 meeting.
At the council's March 11 meeting, aldermen voted 9-4 to amend the ordinance to allow the installation of the sign within 45 days of the opening of the restaurant. However, the ordinance needed to be read two more times at separate council meetings before it could be adopted.
There were concerns about parking in the area, with an estimated 500 to 600 patrons a day, along with employees. The restaurant was going to employ between 75 and 100 people.
"While parking was a concern, the city's administration made a compelling argument that processes were in place to expand the number of public spaces in the very near future," Venvertloh said.
The undisclosed chain is still interested in the Quincy market, but is now looking at Hannibal and West Quincy in Missouri as possible alternatives, Venvertloh said.
He said he remains committed to redeveloping the property.
Note: This is a slightly edited version of the initial story.