Neighbors describe what it was like doing business near Brown Bag
A downtown sandwich company-turned-bar is closed after owners say they were harassed by a neighbor and feared the city would force them to limit their business hours.
Downtown Community Council members have reported concerns about rowdy crowds at Brown Bag Sandwich Company, including an incident at bar break last month -- where police tased one person and arrested four.
In 2016, KTVA reported on Brown Bag customers urinating outside the bar.
On Wednesday, Brown Bag sandwich closed its doors for good after more than five years of business in Downtown Anchorage.
In a Facebook post last week, Brown Bag co-owner Brynne McLeod said Brown Bag faced sanctions from the city.
In a list of reasons for the bar closure, McLeod wrote, "because without a single violation, not one, we were at risk of having conditions placed on our conditional use permit, forcing us to close at 10pm, rendering our business obsolete."
McLeod also says she felt harassed and hated by a neighbor.
"Because a man who has made it his mission in life to 'end me,' is documenting and reviewing my every move. Because when I'm there, I'm never not feeling watched... judged... hated," McLeod wrote, attaching screenshots of hateful messages she received from a man who lives and works next door.
"You are a predator and we are taking you out you're done," one of the messages reads. "You need to call me because I'm out for blood tonight," another said.
"We no longer respect you we are removing you from our block," another reads.
Russ Reno of Anchorage Downtown TourGroup is the man behind all of them.
"I regret those words, and I've apologized for those words, but I am moving on," Reno said of his messages to McLeod.
Reno, whose business sits next door, says he sent the messages out of desperation one night.
"When people are urinating and pooping right in your front door, you know, and peeing on the front of your front door, how much of that are you supposed to accept and take?" Reno said. "Cleaning up puke and vomit and garbage and cigarette butts and everything every single day."
Reno isn't the only neighbor who says they were fed-up with the crowd that Brown Bag attracted.
"It was impacting my business, so I was not gonna take it," said Geewon Anderson of Urban Sushi, who says she's glad to see Brown Bag go.
Anderson describes similar problems with the bar.
"Vomit, and I have to open the restaurant, I come in and vomit's all over the place. And napkins, with their names stamped on all over here," Anderson said of the scenes she came across outside her doors frequently. "A half-eaten sandwich, beer bottles."
Anderson says she was so frustrated with the business that she started gathering up the trash and taking it to Brown Bag.
"Clearly, I told them many times I am going to make sure that my restaurant is going to be safe and clean, and if you are not going to be there, I'm going to bring you your garbage all day every day -- so watch out. So, we never get along fine," Anderson said.
While Brown Bag may have faced strong criticism on one side of 3rd Avenue, just a block away, 49th State Brewing Company says it hasn't had problems with its neighbors or Brown Bag.
"Definitely friendly terms," Ellen Maloney, promotions director for 49th State, said of the business relationship with Brown Bag. "I've had a sandwich from them myself. When we were first opening up, actually, we didn't have our kitchens ready and I think we got a whole bunch of sandwiches brought over while we were still working."
For its part, 49th State says problems can happen anywhere in the neighborhood.
"We just try to temper it with making sure everyone's having a good time, and people are being responsible. We help them do that," Maloney said.
While things may be quieter now, businesses on the block all agree they hope it stays busy -- and that whatever goes in next can help make Downtown even better.
KTVA reached out to McLeod and her husband, Antoine, who co-own Brown Bag for comment on this story but has not received a response.
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