A fight for the right to party

Disagreement about dancing at Woody's Wharf is indicative of a broader culture clash on the Balboa Peninsula.

November 09, 2013|By Emily Foxhall
  • Bartender Michael Guerin serves up a fancy blue martini early on in the night at Woody's Wharf on the Balboa Peninsula.
Bartender Michael Guerin serves up a fancy blue martini… (Don Leach, Daily…)

In a county dominated by the need to drive, a few Newport Beach spots offer late-night revelers something rare: a walkable nightlife.

One of these clusters of restaurants and bars lies on the Balboa Peninsula, near the Newport Pier. Patrons have come here for decades — be they neighborhood dwellers, summer renters or residents — to enjoy a vibrant, seaside area where they can move from place to place without getting behind the wheel.

Steady streams of people continue to enjoy the often party-like atmosphere the Peninsula provides, yet while the surrounding streets bustle, some who live there have raised complaints about patrons' noise and drunken antics. It's a problem that seems as old as the city itself.

But an ongoing dustup over noise and quality-of-life complaints has focused the conflict on one particular spot, Woody's Wharf, whose owners have sought an official extension to their operating hours and an allowance for patron dancing, first from the Planning Commission and then from the City Council. The issue will return to the council for a procedural second vote Tuesday.


People living in a condo down the street seized the opportunity to raise protest, testifying that Woody's negatively impacts the area. But Woody's owners say they simply want paperwork to match age-old habits.

"What we've been doing here is what we've been doing since the place opened," said Greg Pappas, one of four co-owners of Woody's Wharf, which was established in 1965.

As Peninsula residents cited alleged incidents of public urination, vomit and excessive noise related to the restaurant and bar, others argued that these residents should have known better. If one wanted complete peace and quiet, perhaps they picked the wrong the location.


Party Hub?

On a weekend night, the Balboa Peninsula is certain to draw a crowd.

The options for late-night entertainment abound, whether one is looking for a relaxing dinner, live music or a stiff cocktail. Be it Cassidy's Bar & Grill, Mutt Lynch's, the Blue Beet or Blackie's By the Sea, each offers its own unique character but the same underlying product. They are beach-town spots where one can meet others over drinks.

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