Denison leaders find compromise on Red Rock Saloon hours

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Red Rock Saloon opened in 2018. This week, Denison City Council made a compromise on amending the approved hours for the club and have allowed it to open earlier and on additional days.

Denison City Council helped work out a compromise Monday night that will allow a downtown business to expand its hours of operation while hopefully not disturbing its neighbors. The compromise centered on a request by Red Rock Saloon, located at 123 W. Woodard, to expand its days of operation to seven days a week and open earlier in the evening.

Last week, representatives for the dance hall and night club approached the Planning and Zoning Commission about the request, which would allow the site to be open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.  Monday through Wednesday and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday.

The request was met with some concern from a neighboring property owner about noise and other issues with the two businesses. 

Currently, the business' permits allow it to operate Thursday through Saturday from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Diana Jenkins, co-owner of the Red Rock Saloon said the past 18 months have been difficult for the saloon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, the business was forced to shutter its doors for seven months. Now, the site has expanded its score to include food and beverage sales in an effort to help business.

Jenkins said the earlier hours would help capture some of the dinner crowd as people get off work.

Jenna Zapata, who operates the neighboring Zig Zag Gallery, spoke in opposition to the request, stating that she has had issues with noise, people standing outside prior to the club opening and other concerns.

"We are a family-friendly oriented business hosting art shows for all ages, art classes for kids and hosting other family-friendly events as well," Zapata said Monday.

Zapata said she frequently hosts events and activities for children in her art gallery. At times, she has heard music, including some that is inappropriate for children, coming through the walls from the club into her gallery.

Zapata also questioned the adult-nature of some of the events that have been held at the dance hall in the past and the possible conflict with her business. Zapata also accused the business of being open outside of its approved hours in the past.

Denison Senior Planner Bill Medina previously said the business has only a single complaint against it in its three years of operation. The sole complaint relates to a gathering of bikers that was supposedly planned for the venue but did not ultimately occur.

Jenkins said the business has stayed within its approved hours and has gotten approval from Medina to open early on Thursdays for the remainder of the year.

For his part, Medina said he does not recall giving blanket approval for the club to open early on Thursdays for the year. Instead, extended hours are limited to a few days a year and are for specific events only.

Members of the council worked to find a compromise between the two uses. Ideas ranged from extending the days but not the hours each day to allowing the business to open at 7 p.m.

Ultimately, the council agreed to extend the days and hours as requested, but limited live music to 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Through this, the council hoped to allow enough time for the art gallery to close while also giving the club time to do sound checks before performances.

"I think this helps us to not have that overlap, or that risk of overlap, and keep the rest of that district going as it has been," City Council member Brian Hander said.