New battlefield for Fridays@3rd Street war: Court
The dispute between the Mom & Pop's Diner owner Doug Cramer and Brewery Arts Center director John Procaccini is heading for small claims court.
In short, Cramer signed a contract that included a diagram that showed where the bars operated by Mom & Pop's and Firkin & Fox were to be located. But those locations were changed in a way that Cramer claims was detrimental to his business, cutting off access to the bulk of the crowd. Procaccini admits that changes were made to the bar locations, but doesn't agree that the changes constitutes a breach of contract.
Cramer also said that the bands Procaccini brought in where not conducive to his business and customers, and favored Firkin's younger clientele instead. Cramer preferred shows for families and older folks, with tables and chairs so people could sit down.
Something else that has changed recently is that Cramer is enforcing his ownership of the Fridays@3rd trademark, that he registered to protect the name of the event he created nine years ago. You'll notice that the event now bills itself either as Fridays on Third or Fridays@Firkin.
Whatever you call the event, it's also part of the Curry Street Promenade, which is the subject of my yet-to-be-completed story on the city's funding of these events.
If you look at the budget documents submitted to the city by Procaccini, you will see that the cost of each of these street concerts is about $4,000. Of this, $2,000 comes from the participating businesses, of which Firkin is the only participant for the eight concerts on 3rd Street this year. The rest comes from the city.
Cramer said that before the BAC became involved, he was staging these concerts for about $500. At his new Paradise Cove Cafe at the Carson Mall, he is currently staging the same kind of Friday concerts for about the same price. To be fair, these shows do not use the professional stage setup that the 3rd Street concerts use today.
But, this professional stage actually belongs to the city and not BAC, according to my conversations with City Manager Larry Werner and others. The city is not charging for the use of this stage. What does cost money is the setting up and tearing down of this stage, which the BAC budget says costs $400 for each event.
The BAC also charges $1,000 to set up and run the lights and sound for each event, and another $200 for a "segment manager." The bands are paid an average of $1,000 per show, with some extra travel expenses paid for out-of-town acts.
Cramer and others have suggested that the city — and Firkin — are being gouged, that these shows can be produced for far less money. I'm not sure this rises to level of gouging, anymore than paying a mechanic $85 a hour to work on your car is gouging. But it's certainly true that these concerts could likely be staged for less money.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Doug Cramer for a number of years, and was at some of the shows on 3rd Street last year and heard about his complaints back then. I also recently started doing some website work for him, one of the pitfalls of being a journalist and entrepreneur. So take everything I say here with the appropriate grain of salt.
Please feel free to add to this story in the comments, or submit your own story if you like. We are open to hearing from all sides.