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Bars post dress code policy to deter rougher crowd

An owner of two bars in downtown Charleston is concerned that some of the rougher customers who used to patronize Impulse will filter into other establishments now that the dance club has closed.

He hopes a dress code policy he recently posted on his doors will help.

Paul Greco has owned Sam's Uptown Cafe for about a year. He also owns Boulevard Tavern.

And although he has had a dress code in place since he took over, he just recently posted the policy on his doors.

"We thought with Impulse closing was a good reason to post it," he said.

Impulse nightclub at 205 Capitol St. had its liquor license suspended on Jan. 28 after a stabbing in front of the bar. The club's owner, Janet Amores, voluntarily surrendered her liquor license on Feb. 15, essentially closing the bar for good.

Greco said he believes every downtown bar and business owner is worried about the rougher element that would go to Impulse moving into their establishments.

"Yeah, it's definitely a concern," he said. "I don't know where the crowd will go now."

Greco's bars offer a different atmosphere than Impulse. For one, neither of his bars plays dance music. He hopes that means they would continue to attract a different type of crowd.

"We do whatever is possible to protect ourselves and our patrons," he said.

Greco wasn't sure why Impulse had so many problems, but noted "the more people you have, the more chances you have for problems."

Greco's policy prohibits backward ball caps, baggy pants, camouflage and no biker colors on jackets.  

Greco noted that his employees must determine whether a person is too intoxicated to drink at the club before they look for dress code violations.

Still, he's had few problems at Sam's and Boulevard Tavern. The majority of people who come to Sam's do so because of the quality of food served, he said.

"And we have mostly a hippie crowd at the Tavern because of the music," he said.

Establishing and enforcing dress codes is the right of the bar owner, and there are as many establishments without dress codes as those with, Greco said.

"There are other options for people if they don't want to go to a place with a dress code," he said.      

Dress codes that include no baggy pants, no camouflage, no backward baseball caps and hooded sweatshirts can help to create an appropriate atmosphere, said Scott Miller, owner of Bar 101 on Capitol Street.

"I think the way you dress influences the way you act," Miller said.

Miller has had a dress code in place ever since he took over his bar about eight years ago, he said. However, he does not post the policy until the weekends when more people frequent the establishment, he said.

Miller is adamant about running an establishment where problems like fights do not occur, he said. He has recently added a DJ to play music on Friday and Saturday nights to encourage people to stay longer.

"I want to have a place where people can come and feel safe and have a good time," he said. "People come here because they know there isn't going to be any trouble."

Although the dress code might raise eyebrows for some, he said it is not geared at any specific demographic, and he was quick to point out that young men and women from all ethnicities wear baggy pants, hooded sweatshirts and backward baseball caps.

"I see all kinds of people wearing that stuff," he said.   

Miller said he wants to attract people who would come to Ichiban, the next-door Asian-style restaurant, to drink at 101. Miller owns both Bar 101 and Ichiban.

"I'm a restaurant guy," he said.

Miller also said he did not know why the dance club further down Capitol Street had problems.

"We do what we do to keep our place safe," he said.      

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at  


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