He was specifically talking about Kihei Kalama Village (KKV), but during the Sept. 12 Maui County Liquor Commission hearing, Commissioner Ron McOmber absolutely nailed the fundamental paradox facing every liquor licensee in the county.
In a brief discussion on the current security situation at KKV with Gus Hoeft of Bada Bing and Dog & Duck Pub—both located in controversial shopping plaza—McOmber got a bit nostalgic over the old days when bar owners could give drunken customers coffee to sober them up. “But you can’t do that anymore,” McOmber said, pointing out that nowadays, LC rules prohibited bar staff from keeping intoxicated customers on the property. Of course, when these customers leave the establishment, McOmber noted, they become a problem facing the Maui Police Department.
“This is a major problem,” McOmber said. Later in the hearing, Liquor Commission chairwoman Frances Meshulam seconded McOmber’s comments.
In the by-the-book world of the LC, bar owners and staff are constantly monitoring all their customers, ejecting anyone at the first sign of intoxication. There is no sober-up grace period, in which a drunken customer is allowed to sit at the bar and drink water or coffee—any and every intoxicated customer must leave the premises immediately, or the establishment could face stiff fines and license suspensions.
But in the real world, those tossed from bars for intoxication get into fights in parking lots or attempt to drive drunk. Indeed, MPD stats show a number of drunken fights in the KKV area throughout July and August of this year, but McOmber’s “major problem” goes far beyond South Maui’s densest concentration of bars. And it will continue until the LC finds a way that allows licensees to deal with intoxicated customers in a way that doesn’t endanger the public.