Arlington bar may lose license

ARLINGTON – An Arlington bar with a history of violence and liquor law violations is in jeopardy of losing its liquor license.

The Katana Cafe, in a strip mall in the 16800 block of Smokey Point Boulevard, was visited by police 83 times beyond standard security checks over the past two years, Arlington Police Chief John Gray said.

Kevin Nortz / The Herald

Police have responded to the Katana Cafe in Arlington 83 times in addition to standard security checks in the past two years.

That’s about three times more often than police visited any of the city’s other 20 bars during the same period, Gray said.

The calls for service included five assaults, three assaults with weapons, two thefts, two vehicle thefts and an warrant arrest.

The most recent incident happened Sunday, when a 19-year-old Everett man who had been drinking at the bar struck another man on the head with a baseball bat after closing time, police said.

Since November 2004, the state Liquor Control Board has cited the bar once for overserving patrons, twice for allowing disorderly conduct, and three times for serving minors.

The city is asking the Liquor Control Board to revoke the bar’s liquor license.

“The city’s contention is there were preventable problems that occurred inside the business that they allowed to escalate,” Gray said.

The bar’s owner, Michael Tran, believes he has been unfairly targeted by the city, said David Osgood, his Seattle attorney.

Several incidents at the Katana Cafe happened in the parking lot, which Tran doesn’t own and shouldn’t be held responsible for, Osgood said.

Tran is contesting several of the city’s and state’s allegations against the bar, Osgood said. He called Gray an “activist police chief” who “does not want nightclubs in (the city’s) borders.”

“We don’t have a problem with disorderly conduct,” Osgood said.

Arlington city attorney Steven Peiffle wrote a letter to the Liquor Control Board in April to urge against renewing the cafe’s liquor license. The letter highlights disturbances at the bar in 2004 and 2005.

On Nov. 28, 2004, gunshots were fired and a police chase ensued after two young men began arguing inside the bar, the letter said. One of the men was underage, and so was a young woman who was with the shooter.

On Jan. 22, 2005, a drunken patron pulled out a machete during an argument at closing time, and then drove away. Employees didn’t call the police. Officers doing a voluntary security check at the cafe found out about the argument and tracked down the patron. His blood-alcohol level was .176 – more than double the state’s legal limit – and witnesses at the bar said he had been served four pitchers of beer, the letter said.

On Feb. 6, 2005, police responded to the bar when two men who were arguing in the bar continued their dispute in the parking lot after closing time, the letter said. Police arrived to find about 50 people in the parking lot, including Katana Cafe employees. No one was trying to intervene, and security staff had not called police, the letter said.

Several of the disturbances were avoidable, Gray said. Katana Cafe employees should call police or intervene rather than let arguments simmer until closing time, he said.

“We’re not saying that bars have to be responsible for all human behavior, but when they see these signs that something bad is going to happen, they have a responsibility to act,” Gray said.

“We hold this business to the same accountability that we hold all of our bars and taverns to,” he said. “There’s no difference here.”

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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