Graduate to Change Picnic Policy, Will Not Sell Alcohol Before 11 AM

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citycatIn light of picnic day events and public scrutiny, it appears that the Davis Graduate has reviewed its policy on serving beer at 6 am and has now changed its policies.  The Graduate became a focus in part because of erroneous police reports that suggested the Graduate the locus for a fight that injured a police officer, but also because many people believed that selling alcohol at 6 am set a bad example and began drinking at an earlier hour than they otherwise might have.

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.

She elaborated on that two weeks ago, “Something this important should not be decided in a hasty manner just days from the incident in question. The decisions made in regards to Picnic Day, alcohol availability and general tenor of that day’s events are going to be far reaching.”

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

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 thoughts on “Graduate to Change Picnic Policy, Will Not Sell Alcohol Before 11 AM”

  1. roger bockrath

    By Golly ! A business owner who puts community before personal profit motive. Now that’s leadership! It gives me hope for the future of the City Council as well as the survival of Picnic Day. It will be interesting to keep track of what other businesses follow Mr/Mrs. Swanson’s lead.

  2. rick entrikin

    I am Very pleased to see The Graduate taking the lead on Picnic Day alcohol sales & ending early-morning promotions. GREAT Job!

    Now, let’s just hope that other alcohol-sellers will follow suit. If they Don’t, we should support the Graduate totally, & boycott any business that does not measure up to the standards set by the Graduate.

    Rick E.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    I think I want to say this now. A couple of weeks ago people, at least some, criticized the decision to run a piece which allowed Ms. Swanson to respond to thing circulating in the community. I basically printed her comments verbatim, yet got accused of it being a hit piece. A strange criticism, but fine.

    At the same time, people complained about her response. One of the things I find interesting is that on the one hand we don’t like smooth, professional politicians, or at least so we say. On the other hand, when someone comes along who is obviously not a smooth and professional politician and doesn’t give the perfect answer to something the first time, we jump down their throats.

    I’ve tried not to weigh too much into my own opinion on this campaign, but I think the Swanson’s have acted appropriately here. They took a reasonable time to look into a practice, i think that practice was asking for trouble and I think many in the community rightly questioned it. In response they have come up with a good solution from their standpoint. Maybe that should have happened two weeks ago, but I think there was no need to rush a decision when the next picnic day is still more than 11 months away.

    So hopefully this puts this issue to rest.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    I would much rather see businesses step up to the plate on their own, and be part of the solution, than have the CC have to figure out ways to “fix the problem” of bars/grocery stores serving cheap alchohol at 6 am. My hope is the business community as a whole will step forward and follow suit before May 10. It will go a long way to start the community towards making (and keeping alive) Picnic Day as a family friendly event. It will also make the community forum on Picnic Day a lot more fruitful.

  5. Eric Gelber

    Yes–they acted appropriately. And I’m sure they would have made the same decision even if a seat on the City Council were not at stake. I’m just sayin’.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    I don’t have a strong feeling about the Graduate’s policies, one way or the other.

    But I do think there is reason to question the state law which mandates that all bars close at 2 am and cannot re-open (for alcohol sales) before 6 am. I don’t see any public benefit from a forced 4-hour closure.

    My view is that the 2 am closure (at least on the weekends) creates an artificial concentration of drunk drivers on the roads all at once. We would be much better off by just allowing bars to operate 24 hours. I don’t discount at all the need to keep drunk drivers off the road at all times.

  7. rusty49

    “So hopefully this puts this issue to rest.”

    I’m sitting here laughing. So typical of you David, you stir up the sheeeeeet then play the “unbiased and fair moderater”.

    I wouldn’t be attacking the other candidates too much because you’ll help getting us stuck with Vergis.

  8. JustSaying

    “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.”

    Actually, this was exactly the point I’d tried to make to you earlier.

    In your original piece ([u]Picnic Day Alcohol Incidents Focus Scrutiny on Council Candidate[/u]) you weren’t reporting what you claimed to be. YOU were the one focusing scrutiny by tracking down Ms. Swanson–a pursuit necessary once you made “the decision to run a piece which allowed Ms. Swanson to respond to thing(s) circulating in the community.” You already were aware that the main thing “circulating” (bad behavior at The Graduate) was untrue, yet you used the “erroneous police reports” update to help justify looking to Ms. Swanson alone among the council members and candidates for a response because her husband owns The Graduate. Her guilt by association was a non-story everywhere but in the Vanguard.

    I’m with the others here who are pleased to see Mr. Swanson taking the lead on changing the Picnic Day “tradition.” I hope other businesses will follow soon. (Not that there aren’t bigger alcohol contributors to the day’s bad behavior, house/apartment parties, for example.) But, I’m afraid I’m with rusty49 with respect to the way you handled the “Rochelle Connection.”

  9. E Roberts Musser

    JS: “I’m with the others here who are pleased to see Mr. Swanson taking the lead on changing the Picnic Day “tradition.” I hope other businesses will follow soon. (Not that there aren’t bigger alcohol contributors to the day’s bad behavior, house/apartment parties, for example.) But, I’m afraid I’m with rusty49 with respect to the way you handled the “Rochelle Connection.”

    And had DPD not reported the Swanson connection, would the owner of The Graduate have stepped up to the plate immediately to do the right thing? Sometimes a reporter can take pro-active steps to effect change, as painful as those steps might be… Furthermore, it gave us more insight into Rochelle Swanson as a candidate, both in the Vanguard and her response at the City Council meeting, however one view’s that response.

    When a person runs for office, any connections they have and just about every part of their life is fair game for a certain degree of scrutiny. Some believe that what a person does in private does not necessarily have any bearing on what they will do in public office. I believe what people do in private is pretty indicative of their character, and how it will stand up to pressure in public office.

  10. biddlin

    “And had DPD not reported the Swanson connection, would the owner of The Graduate have stepped up to the plate immediately to do the right thing?” Charlie and Rochelle are noted for their community involvement and contributions. There should be no question of character or their commitment to improving the quality of life in Davis. Hit piece or not, this has had the effect of giving Rochelle more name recognition than any paid advert could have.

  11. civil discourse

    Well once Marijuana possession becomes legal after November, we’ll see how that impacts Picnic Day. Headline from 2015: Graduate Not to Sell Marijuana Joints Until 11:00am. Potato Chips On Sale at 11:04am.

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