Willow Glen Bar Owner Answers Criticism After Weekend Stabbing

A bar fight is brewing in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood. Residents say a local bar is attracting the wrong crowd.

But, the owner of the Willow Den says he is trying to change the bar's reputation. His neighbors want the city to shut the bar down after a weekend stabbing.

Hans Heller, the owner of the Willow Den bar, is answering criticism about the stabbing that happened at the bar just after 11 p.m. Saturday night, about three hours after the neighborhood’s popular Dancin' on the Avenue festival a couple of blocks away.

Heller said he knew his bar would be busy on Saturday night, and he doubled his security staff to 15, but trouble still managed to find its way in.

"There are certainly lessons to be learned moving forward," said Heller.

San Jose police records show that there were several other fights that broke out in addition to the stabbing.

"We were able to contain it with about 18 officers,"  said San Jose Police Sergeant  Jason Dwyer.  "We did find one stabbing victim. He’d been stabbed several times. By entering the bar we located the suspect in this case and took him into custody."

According to SJPD, there were 300-400 people inside the bar  and outside in the parking lot, which was fenced in for a weekend event.  It is unclear if the fence violated any permitting requirements.

Richard Zappelli, the president of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association, says he would like the Willow Den shut down for good.

"This bar has been nothing but a problem for us to deal with, mainly because of their close association as a biker bar," said Zappelli.

But the Willow Den owner says the bar changed ownership more than three years ago and is no longer a biker bar.   The bar has a valid liquor license with the California alcoholic beverage commission and no code citations with the city of San Jose.

The bar’s owner says the city just renewed his conditional use permit.

"I went down to the  city council chambers for that process to address any citizen’s concern about our operation. Unfortunately, I was the only person present," said Heller.

In addition to the stabbing suspect, other people were taken into custody for assault and obstructing an investigation.

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