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Doll Hut gets its live music permit

The Anaheim rock club had operated illegally for 20 years until the problem was discovered. Now all's above-board.

August 07, 2007|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

After 20 years of operating illegally, a storied Anaheim rock club Monday received a city permit to charge for live music, a reprieve that will keep the joint jumping.

Anaheim officials say they were unaware the Doll Hut did not have the proper license and was charging admission until new owner Juan Reynoso mentioned it while reapplying for an entertainment permit six months ago.

At the risk of being fined, Reynoso dropped his cover charge and was forced to stop paying the punk, rockabilly and alternative bands that fill the tiny former truck stop almost nightly while the city considered his application.

But on Monday the Anaheim Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the club's application for a $250 "public dance hall" license.

The Doll Hut can begin charging customers to hear live music unless public objections arise during a three-week appeal period.

"That gives me some time to plan a nice big party," said club manager Dirk Belling.

The club became nationally known under owner Linda Jemison in the early 1990s for giving start-up bands such as Blink 182, Weezer and Social Distortion a place to play.

About 10 Doll Hut regulars attended the hearing, at which Belling argued that the club was a musical landmark that Anaheim couldn't afford to lose.

"We're an Anaheim business that's worth revering and preserving," Belling said. "I'm thrilled to death that the city agrees with us."

As word of the Doll Hut's problem spread, fans of the bar e-mailed city officials, pleading for leniency.

"There's no way we'd have been able to continue to operate the way we wanted to," Belling said. "We'd have had to [turn] into a quiet little corner tavern. . . . Now I'm able to operate with a plan and a direction and as a real music venue."

In addition to paying the $250 fee, Reynoso spent thousands of dollars sprucing up the outside and inside to meet city permit requirements.

david.mckibben@latimes.com

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