From the Vanguard’s perspective, this became a story primarily because Rochelle Swanson, the wife of owner Charlie Swanson, is running for Davis City Council. She had originally stated that the decision to serve alcohol at 6 am was not a decision she alone could make.
After apparent careful reflection, Charlie Swanson sent a letter to the Davis City Council announcing his intentions to change Davis Graduate picnic day policies.
Writes Mr. Swanson, “As a local business owner and community member, I have always taken pride in The Davis Graduate’s standing with the community. The Davis Graduate has been locally owned for 40 years, and I have been a part of that success for 28 of them.”
He continues, “We do our best to support to the local economy as well, paying taxes, employing people and contributing over $50,000 in sponsorships and donations in the last year. I am saddened by the events that have clouded the perception of our community during this last 2010 Picnic Day.”
“We at The Davis Graduate are taking a leadership role on the issue of early Picnic Day drinking,” Mr. Swanson declared. “We invite the rest of the Davis business and community leaders to do the same.”
Their new pledge includes the following:
- We will not serve any alcohol before 11 a.m.
- We will not offer any discounts on any beer, wine, or hard alcohol on this day.
- Food service will be extended from midnight till 1:45 am, all hours we are open.
- We will have trained and certified all management, security, bartenders and servers in Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (L.E.A.D) through the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC).
Stated Mr. Swanson, “We have always and will continue to ensure that we meet the ABC guidelines for serving and selling alcohol, including providing adequate staffing and security for our premise and for our Alcohol Beverage Control mandated area of responsibility.”
He concluded, “With our Picnic Day Pledge and the support of the rest of the community, we feel confident that Picnic Day will once again be THE event that exemplifies Davis as the proud and wonderful community that it is for students, alumni, families and visitors alike.”
In his previous letter that the Vanguard published from on April 23, 2010, Mr. Swanson made it a point to note that there were zero calls to the police at the Graduate during the entire Picnic Day Weekend.
These show that not only did the Graduate receive no calls, but that most of the calls were to house parties, venues not providing adequate security, and groups of people already violating our city’s open container and minor in possession laws.”
He continued, “To group The Graduate in with the areas and venues where the police attention was focused and needed is inaccurate.”
“We have always worked hand in hand with the Davis Police Department in providing a safe and secure environment,” he wrote. “We appreciate the challenges the police department has on such a high profile day and put staff and procedures in place to be part of the solution not the problem.”
It was clear that something needed to change if picnic day was going to survive. Part of that needs to change the culture that focuses the event around drinking and that just was not going to happen as long as establishments were serving beer starting at 6 am.
The other part of what needs to happen is that there needs to be more events during the day that shift the focus from drinking to other activities. Changing the starting time is only a small part of the problem, but it was important. It sent the message that this was a special drinking day. It sent the message and started a certain number of students drinking at an early time, a time when many would normally be sleeping.
By itself it will not fix the problem, but it is a very good start.
—David M. Greenwald reporting