"It needed to have the kind of development that would draw people to it at all times of the day," said Steve Bone, president of the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau. "Now it does."
The development has been good for city coffers, but it's caught between angry residents concerned about their quality of life and businesses that bring in much-needed revenue.
Mayor Joe Carchio said downtown businesses need liquor licenses to draw customers.
"Restaurants are not going to survive unless they have alcohol," he said. "Unless you're a McDonald's."
At Baja Sharkeez, which is also being investigated by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for potential violations, police have placed restrictions on the entertainment permit. Those include no live entertainment and no new customers after 1 a.m., the addition of a security guard and only single-sized drinks after midnight.
The restaurant worked with police to come up with the restrictions.
"At the end of the day, we want to be proactive," said Greg Newman, president of Baja Sharkeez.
But at Killarney Pub and Grill, another popular spot on Main Street, bartender Paul Roberts, 41, doesn't think Huntington Beach is wilder than other beach cities, despite the fact that he recently had to drag a pantless man out of the bar. He said people are attracted to the area because of its proximity to the ocean. Area beaches draw 16 million tourists a year.