The Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on Wednesday agreed to revoke the liquor license of the owner of a Lawrence bar that has been the site of three shootings since last October.
State and city officials said Lee Riley, of Topeka, who was listed as the owner of Taste, 804 W. 24th St., had surrendered Taste’s liquor license to the ABC one week ago.
But City Attorney Toni Wheeler said city staff members requested the ABC continue Wednesday with a revocation hearing in which ABC Director Doug Jorgensen found in favor of the city.
“As a result of the revocation, it is our understanding that Lee Riley will not be eligible to possess a state of Kansas liquor license in the future,” Wheeler said.
City commissioners in May unanimously voted to revoke Taste’s city liquor license and to pursue the same action on the state license as well. In recent months city officials had voiced public safety concerns about violence at the bar.
A bouncer was shot in the parking lot on March 17, and there were two other incidents during which shots were fired outside the business last October and December. Suspects have been arrested and charged in all three cases. City attorneys in May also wrote in a memo that there were allegations of at least two sexual assaults there since 2011.
Wheeler said that city attorneys and Lawrence police presented evidence at Wednesday’s hearing and that Riley did not appear.
Riley had said before the City Commission in May that he was shaken by the shootings but that he believed some of the violence stemmed from promotion companies that were drawing an atypical crowd to his establishment. He said he had ceased working with certain promotional companies.
It was unclear Wednesday when the bar stopped operating as Taste, but Jeannine Koranda, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue, which includes the ABC, confirmed Riley surrendered his license about a week ago. Koranda said the ABC would also release more information about Wednesday’s hearing later in the week.