The soft sounds of tickled ivory may soon be moving a few doors down West Main Street.
The Vintage Lounge, a Downtown Turlock piano bar, is planning a move to the old site of Fontis Spa & Salon. The new location, 130 W. Main St., is less than a block from the bar's current home of 110 W. Main St.
The Turlock Planning Commission will consider approving the move during its Thursday meeting.
According to a staff report, the lounge will continue to feature live entertainment, such as music, and comedy shows. Light appetizers will continue to be served, and a dress code will be enforced.
The larger, former home of Fontis would hold 196 people. An outdoor seating area would be constructed at the entrance. And dancing would be added to the bar, with the Vintage Lounge currently in the process of applying for a dance permit with the Turlock Police Department.
The new location would be open from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday, closing a half-hour later than the current site. The Vintage Lounge would only open Sundays and Mondays for special occasions.
The Vintage Lounge's initial 2008 approval was plagued with controversy, after then-City Manager Tim Kerr granted an appeal allowing the lounge to obtain a liquor license which was previously denied by then-Police Chief Gary Hampton and city staff. Mayor John Lazar, who was the real estate agent on the initial Vintage Lounge development, was accused of improperly facilitating the license by then-Councilmember Ted Howze.
“It was brought to the attention of members of the City Council, by city employees, that there were concerns of corruption in the appeal process because Mayor Lazar was pressuring the city manager to grant the liquor license,” Howze wrote in a letter to the Turlock Journal. “Kerr did grant the liquor license on appeal contrary to the earlier denial.”
Lazar took no part in public votes on the development, due to the conflict of interest.
Additionally, then-Councilwoman Mary Jackson took part in approving the project despite a potential conflict of interest. Axel Gomez, a member of Jackson's campaign team, was the attorney of record for the Vintage Lounge until shortly before a Turlock City Council vote to approve the project.
Jackson was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Stanislaus County Grand Jury in 2009.
“Often the perception of wrongdoing is greater than the offense itself. This appears to be the case here; wherein no actual wrongdoing was found to exist, the perception of wrongdoing does (exist),” a Grand Jury report reads. “… (Jackson) should have recused herself to avoid any perception of wrongdoing.”
In 2010, the Planning Commission reviewed the bar's operations, found them satisfactory, and approved a extending the Vintage Lounge's closing time from 12 midinight to 1:30 a.m.
Turlock city staff recommends approval of the move.
On Thursday, the Turlock Planning Commission is also expected to:
• Consider allowing the Cottage Park Senior Community, located at 2400 Cypress Point Dr., to add a concrete walkway, park lights, picnic tables, park benches, horseshoe courts, and bocce ball courts to its private park.
• Hear a staff update on the ACEforward Public Scoping Meeting, to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. July 24 at the Stanislaus County Library, 1500 I St., Modesto. The meeting will discuss the possibility of extending Altamont Commuter Express rail service to Modesto and Turlock.
The Turlock Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.