SAN MARCOS — Close to 100 supporters of all-age music performances at The Jumping Turtle restaurant and entertainment venue gathered in front of City Hall on July 9 to let their opinions be known.
Hand-painted signs spelled out messages of “Don’t stop the music” and “We love the turtle.”
An initial rally to oppose age restrictions was held June 4.
“It’s a great place,” Randy Clevers, of San Marcos, said. “I don’t understand what the problem is.” Clevers stood as a supporter at the July 9 rally with his wife and two daughters. “We all enjoy going there.”
There were also signs calling out City Clerk Suzie Vasquez as “judge, jury and executioner.”
Owners of The Jumping Turtle have been unsuccessful in arranging a meeting with Vasquez to review two permit restrictions that went into immediate effect in May and make it difficult for the restaurant to remain financially solvent.
The restrictions that concern The Jumping Turtle owner Matt Hall do not allow performers or patrons under age 21 or presales of entertainment tickets.
The new restrictions markedly cut down on the number of patrons who come to the
restaurant and restrict entertainment payment to donations at the door.
There has not been a meeting between the city and The Jumping Turtle owners to discuss permit restrictions.
Vasquez said the city is open to meeting with the restaurant owners. “We’ve been trying to schedule something, but haven’t been able to schedule a date yet,” Vasquez said.
Joe Troutman, The Jumping Turtle entertainment manager, said the city has ignored numerous attorney requests for a meeting.
Attorney Jon A. Jensen sent a letter to the city on behalf of The Jumping Turtle on June 24. In it he stated that the city is attempting to target the restaurant and put it out of business with the new restrictions that come after six years of business operations.
“Six and a half years of doing this is enough proving grounds,” Troutman said.
Patrons miss the all-ages shows they used to enjoy with their families.
“It’s real family oriented,” Ben Petrella, of Bonita, said. “We’re a family that loves music.”
Petrella has performed at The Jumping Turtle as part of the Echelons band with his 12-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter. “I’ve never seen the crowd out of control,” Petrella said.
“My son has a band and nowhere to go,” Kevin Maddox, of Vista, said. “He can’t play there anymore. There’s nowhere for kids to go.”
The previous permit allowed performers and patrons younger than 21 in the restaurant until 10 p.m.
Vasquez stands by the new restrictions. “If they want to cater to all ages it’s problematic if they serve alcohol,” Vasquez said.
“Underage drinking is not a problem in our venue,” Troutman said.
The Jumping Turtle owners are working to obtain incident reports so they can address any accusations against the restaurant.
One incident The Jumping Turtle knows about and can account for is a fight April 18, which involved 10 people. “We turned off the PA system and power to stage,” Troutman said. “Security was handling it.” Sheriffs also were on site April 18 to break up the fight.
“If we have one incident in six and a half years, we should get a pat on the back,” Troutman said.
The Jumping Turtle will continue to pursue having permit issues heard.
“We’ve had so much support,” Troutman said. “Every day people are calling me, asking, ‘What can I do to help?’”