A pair of local bar owners defended their establishments to city officials on Monday night, but in the end were told they need to clean up their acts to some degree or face possible liquor license revocation.
During Monday’s board of aldermen meeting at city hall, Bruce Carver of Caddyshack Grill and Pub and Karen Wideman of the Double Bull Bar were told by Mayor Ron Blum that their businesses will be monitored for the next six months to a year and if activities around their establishments do not improve, the board of aldermen could consider pulling their liquor licenses.
“My recommendation to the board is that we monitor the situation,” Blum said on Monday night. “If it continues as it is, we’ll bring it back to the board to discuss license revocation. ... We’ll monitor this for six months to a year. If progress is made, we’re glad to have you here. If not, we will take action.”
The situation came to light during the last board meeting in June when three local residents voiced their concerns about activity around the Double Bull Bar, 175 S. Main St. At that time, talk centered on a fight that took place outside the establishment earlier in June that led to a broken front window at Lewis Cafe, located next door to the Double Bull, and an injury to one of the bar’s bouncers.
The residents also complained about litter, drag racing and vehicles doing “burn-outs” on the streets and curbs.
The complaints prompted city officials to ask Police Chief Bill Hammack to produce police reports generated from calls to those two bars as well as from other similar businesses in the city that hold liquor licenses. Statistics were included in information provided to the aldermen for Monday’s meeting.
Hammack provided information on six establishments in St. Clair that possess liquor licenses — Double Bull, Caddyshack Grill & Pub, Gibby’s, Pizza Shack, Becky’s Depot and Jerrons.
Twenty-four reports originated from the Double Bull since February of 2010, 25 from Caddyshack since it opened in October 2010, one from Gibby’s (2011), one from Pizza Shack (2010), five from Becky’s Depot (2010-2011) and none from Jerrons.
The police reports range from dealing with fights and peace disturbances to individuals refusing to leave the establishments.
During the June 18 meeting, Hammack said that problems at local liquor-serving establishments are “pretty limited” to the Double Bull and Caddyshack.
Bar Owners Speak
On Monday, both Carver and Wideman addressed the board in defending their businesses. A pair of bouncers from the Double Bull also defended their place of employment.
“There has never been a fight inside my bar,” Carver said. “I feel like I’ve done the things I’ve needed to do. I’m an on-site owner. I’m there all the time.”
Caddyshack is located at 515 Hibbard St.
“I can only control what goes on inside,” he said. “Any fight has taken place outside. I can’t make them leave the sidewalk. So the only thing I can do is to call police to assist in having them removed.
“I didn’t know these calls would be held against me. ... I think the statistics are skewed. ...
“From now on, there will be a whole lot less calls coming from my establishment. I’ll take care of the situation myself without using the police. ...
“I’m definitely here to defend my place.”
According to the statistics provided by Hammack to city officials, of the 25 police calls to Caddyshack since it opened in October 2010, nine were for fights in progress that resulted in 10 arrests. Others were for peace disturbances, property damage, vandalism, trespassing and other offenses.
Wideman defended her business by saying many of the problems in the area originate in the city parking lot across the street.
“There’s no lighting there,” she said. “It’s not safe.”
She also addressed the list of police reports.
“Many of those reports have nothing to do with us,” she said. “A lot of incidents are in the parking lot across the street. I can’t control that.”
The police reports showed that officers showed up to deal with six fights that resulted in 10 arrests. All but one of them took place in 2010.
There were also numerous assault reports that led to arrests or charges.
Hammack defended his department’s reports, and said they are not skewed.
“The city council heard complaints. I was asked to provide reports as comparisons. That’s exactly what I did.
“I provided documentation to the city council per their request. These reports were not made up.”
Both Carver and Wideman stated that they believe once patrons leave their business, they no longer are their responsibility.
Blum said he disagrees to some extent with that statement because the bars first serve those customers, including alcohol, and then those customers leave and situations sometimes arise. He then made his recommendation for the establishments to be monitored.
Carver suggested the bar owners, the mayor, the aldermen and Hammack schedule a meeting so “we can figure this all out.”
Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs said the goal is not to pull liquor licenses.
“The goal is awareness,” he said. “The goal is to have a plan. The goal is to bring this to your attention and that something has to change.
“When we start having problems, we have a touch of responsibility to step it up.”
Hammack said the state has the authority to pull a liquor license because of problems, and also stated the board of aldermen has the same ability.