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CCPD Chief Newlan suspends extended bar hours at Dixie Roadhouse

December 19, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Cape Coral Police Department has suspended the extended bar hours for the Dixie Roadhouse.

Using emergency powers authorized by the Cape Coral City Council when the body approved longer weekend hours for some venues in the South Cape, Police Chief David Newlan issued the suspension on Dec. 12, four days after an early-morming altercation among more than three dozen patrons took place outside and near the establishment.

According to a release issued Wednesday by the CCPD, Newland expressed in a hand-delivered letter to Dixie Roadhouse management that "an immediate and serious danger to the public health, safety and welfare" required emergency suspension of the extended hours permit issued by the City of Cape Coral in April 2018 to Colosseum, LLC for the purpose of allowing the sale, service and consumption of alcohol at the Dixie Roadhouse/Rockade establishment(s).

According to the release, Newlan took this action as a result of the following:

"On December 8, 2018, at or about 2:52 a.m., approximately 40 patrons exited from Dixie Roadhouse and engaged in fighting on SE 47th Terrace and in the public parking lot across the street from Dixie Roadhouse. During the altercations, crowd members were yelling gang affiliated comments that were determined to be a gang out of Fort Myers that is also on the U.S. Attorney's Most Violent Offender List. This created a dangerous condition not only to the persons engaged in the altercations and to the law enforcement officers at the scene, but also to the public at large. Cape Coral Police detail officers were surrounded trying to break up the multiple fights on the street and in the parking lot. Officers called for backup and all south units responded to the scene, totaling 13 police officers. The necessary allocation of police personnel required by this violent activity compromised the police protection for the remaining south district for approximately one hour.

"Furthermore, Cape Coral Police officers have reported an increase in gang members patronizing the Dixie Roadhouse. In particular, officers have reported observing members of the 'Eternals' biker gang, a group affiliated with the 'Outlaws' gang, congregating at Dixie Roadhouse. As recently as December 8, 2018, police officers observed members of both the 'Eternals' and the 'Outlaws' gangs leaving the Dixie Roadhouse at approximately 3 a.m. closing time. This situation is particularly disturbing because of the potential consequences of such patronage. Safeguards recommended by Chief Newlan that could have been readily implemented to reduce, if not completely eliminate, this activity was ignored. Examples of these safeguards that were recommended, prohibiting gang colors in the establishment and place a sign notifying patrons of that prohibition."

The release goes on to state that "Chief Newlan's concern was about the increasing threat to the public health, safety and welfare resulting from activity at Dixie Roadhouse which is compounded by the Dixie Roadhouse's failure to correct conduct or activity that has resulted in a negative impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public generally, as well as of the patrons. More specifically, they have failed or refused to take reasonable precautions to discourage unlawful activity including, but not limited to, disturbances and vehicular use by intoxicated patrons."

According to the CCPD, during the month of September 2018 alone, Dixie Roadhouse patrons were involved in six separate incidents concerning intoxicated persons. Two patrons were reportedly found passed out, one in the bar and the other in a nearby public parking lot. Two patrons were arrested as a result of DUI incidents, one of which resulted in a DUI-related vehicle crash, police said. The police were reportedly called regarding an alleged intoxicated Dixie Roadhouse patron who mistakenly reported his vehicle had been stolen from a public parking lot and "another intoxicated patron threatened police officers in an unsuccessful effort to get them to kill him."

The report indicates that Newlan "has discussed, several times, the need for this establishment to impress on its employee's responsible hospitality industry practices concerning both the welfare of intoxicated patrons and the need to refuse to serve persons who are or are in danger of becoming intoxicated. There has not been any appreciable improvement in the management of these practices. Chief Newlan believes the December 8, 2018 incident(s) described above are either directly or indirectly a result of the failure of the Dixie Roadhouse to address the issues that have repeatedly been discussed."

For these reasons, and in order to protect the community and police officers, Newlan suspended the extended hours permit for Dixie Roadhouse/Rockade.

Dixie Roadhouse has the right to request an emergency public hearing before the City Council challenging the need for this summary action.

Backstreets and Remixx Lounge are currently the only two bars utilizing the extended hours permit.

Dixie Roadhouse officials said late Wednesday that they are working with the police department to resolve concerns.

"We have always fully co-operated with the Cape Coral Police Department and we will continue to do so until this matter is completely resolved," said David Townsend, Dixie Roadhouse marketing director and co-owner.

Source: Cape Coral Police Department

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a response from the Dixie Roadhouse.



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