Toad’s Place party spot reopened after recent bust

Mike Schoeck

After a bust by Liquor Control Commission officials, a $25,000 fine and a week of being closed, Toad’s Place is open again as of Sept. 27, but without a shuttle to and from Quinnipiac.
One of New Haven’s few remaining live music and dance venues since 1975, the club cites recent security concerns as their first and foremost priority for the cutback in transportation.
Toad’s is one of the city’s only venues to offer a no cover dance night, and each week major artists grace the same stage that the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel once played.
Underage drinking and fake identification are Toad’s manager Brian Phelps’ main concern when overseeing a large body of college students.
“We first started an email list with [Quinnipiac] and after being recommended, a shuttle bus made sense,” said Phelps.
With varying complaints of rowdiness stemming from residents, the York Street concert and party hot spot decided to cut off Quinnipiac’s shuttle runs entirely.
Kerstin Soderlund, director of the Carl Hansen Student Center, is in charge of the Quinnipiac shuttles, and said the Toad’s Place shuttle was just duplicating services already provided by the university.
“It was not appropriate,” she said. “They were not targeting their shuttle to the people who were of age.”
As of Sept. 28, Toad’s will run a shuttle to and from Hamden’s private apartment complex Avalon Walk.
Soderlund said this is a god sign since it is meeting different needs and targeting a different population: students who are of age.
“Being forced to live off campus as a senior, I think it’s a better idea for a shuttle to run to Avalon, because the bulk of its student residents are of age,” said senior mass communications major Jaclynne Vettorino.
Whether or not this move will spur only students of age to Toad’s events will soon be decided. If Toad’s continues to turn students away via the campus shuttle, there are other clubs in New Haven that can be reached by the shuttle route.
“It makes sense to run the shuttle from Avalon, because there is a bigger percentage of 21 and over students, but it is still not a good idea to cancel the [school-run] shuttle,” said senior criminal justice major Julie Benson.
The capacity and limit that a mid-sized club like Toad’s has to offer has been tested and after a week’s hiatus, the club is back up and running and security is expected to be tighter than ever in the past year.
The club was first busted on Sept. 12, 2001. Inspecting agents found Toad’s selling alcoholic beverages to eight underage patrons, and during one bust a group of underage patrons were found hiding in the club’s restroom-adjacent hallway in its basement.
Also hit with a $12,500 liquor penalty last year was Naples Pizza and Restaurant on Wall Street, which was caught making several underage sales.
“We’re not trying to drag kids away at all. Our main concern is that they get back and forth safely,” said Phelps, commenting on what he calls “running a dangerous business.”