Archive for Wednesday, May 2, 2012

City trying to revoke bar’s liquor license

Public safety cited as reason after 3 violent incidents at Taste Lounge, Bar and Grill

Taste Lounge, Bar and Grill, 804 W. 24th St.

Taste Lounge, Bar and Grill, 804 W. 24th St.

May 2, 2012, 11:31 p.m. Updated May 3, 2012, 8:58 a.m.


Lawrence city officials are seeking to revoke the liquor license of Taste Lounge, Bar and Grill based on public safety concerns.

A bouncer was shot outside the bar, 804 W. 24th St., on March 17, and there were two other incidents where shots were fired outside the business last October and December. Suspects have been arrested and charged in all three cases.

“These are things that draw our attention when you have these threats to the safety and well-being of the community,” said Chad Sublet, an assistant city attorney.

City commissioners at their May 15 meeting are scheduled to conduct a hearing on whether Taste’s city liquor license should be revoked, and city staff members are also asking the commission to request a hearing before the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control to determine whether Taste’s state license should be suspended or revoked, according to an April 27 letter City Attorney Toni Wheeler sent to Taste’s owner, Lee Riley of Topeka.

A bar that loses its city-issued liquor license could still serve alcohol under its state license, but the city would not be able to collect alcohol sales tax funds, Sublet said. The ABC could also take notice of evidence presented at a city hearing, he said.

“We have a number of drinking establishments in the community. The vast majority of them are safe operations. The owners and the staff take their safety responsibilities seriously, and we occasionally have issues, and we want to work with the business owner,” City Manager David Corliss said. “When we find we’re not being successful, we want to present it to the City Commission and see if there is additional action we need to take.”

In the letter Wheeler said Riley met with Corliss, Police Chief Tarik Khatib and other city officials April 24 to discuss the city’s “public safety concerns with Taste.” The letter also mentions that Riley indicated he intended to cease operations at Taste before the May 15 hearing.

Sublet said Wednesday that for now the city planned to go forward with seeking the revocation until it received further notice, and Wheeler’s letter noted the city would likely defer or table the City Commission action if Taste surrenders its liquor license to the state before noon May 10.

Rich Blackmon, a Taste manager, who has defended the bar’s actions and said he thought it was being unfairly targeted, declined to confirm Wednesday that Riley intended to cease the bar’s operations.

The city also provided to the Journal-World on Wednesday the number of police and medical calls for service from Jan. 1, 2011, through April 1 to each establishment with an on-premise liquor license — mostly bars and restaurants.

Five establishments had a higher overall number of calls during that time than Taste, which has 75. They were:

• Abe and Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St., 163.

• The Oread, which includes The Cave nightclub and everything within the hotel and development, 1200 Oread Ave., 122.

• Tonic, 728 Mass., 99.

• The Hawk, 1340 Ohio, 93.

• Cadillac Ranch, 2515 W. Sixth St., 91.

The calls include everything that originated from that address, including alarms, bar checks, alcohol violations and battery calls or more serious crimes. Sublet said the average number of calls among the more than 100 establishments was 19.8.

Blackmon questioned why city officials would seek to revoke Taste’s liquor license when five other bars had a higher number of calls.

Aside from the firearms-related calls, Taste had only five battery calls listed, while Abe and Jake’s had 26, The Oread had 18, 15 were listed at Cadillac Ranch, 10 at The Hawk, and 19 at Tonic.

“It has to be important to point out,” he said. “So why are they coming after us?”

Sublet said the city’s action at Taste was driven by the violent crime calls at Taste, including the March shooting and two other incidents when shots were fired outside in October.

Corliss and Sublet said city officials either had already met with or arranged to meet with owners of the five other establishments. The city is not currently seeking to revoke their liquor licenses, they said.

According to the ABC, Taste has no violations for serving alcohol to minors, but it had a citation issued in March for not timely filing its liquor drink tax in September to December of last year.

Lawrence police also said last month they intended to send a report to the ABC alleging that on April 15 Taste was open past 2 a.m. and had failed to properly display its liquor license. Blackmon has said the bar was open serving chicken wings and not alcohol, and he said Wednesday the business had not received notice of that incident from the state.

Capt. Bill Cory, a Lawrence police patrol supervisor, said officers had two discussions with Taste staff members in the parking lot after two recent incidents, including on April 15.

“When you have an establishment that has violent crime, the city has to explore all of its options dealing with those issues,” Cory said Wednesday of the city’s revocation request.

The city pursued similar avenues in recent years against establishments that had problems with violence. Owners of Last Call closed the nightclub in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street after a legal battle with the city. In 2009, owners of the former Club Axis, 821 Iowa, previously known as Moon Bar, also closed its doors and surrendered the club’s state liquor license.

An earlier version of the story listed the incorrect numer of battery calls at Taste from Jan. 1, 2011, to April 1, 2012. It was five.


Bigdog66046 6 years, 1 month ago

seems to me that the city has something out for this bar. If it's because of crime there is bars that are double the call volume and they are OK? Guess it really does matter who you know in this town. And with the last article they said the bar had hired off duty police. ( which i didn't think was allowed to work in alcohol establishments.) But if so why can't the police catch this criminals, or better yet PREVENT this from happening. Proactive instead of reactive!! Why is the bar responsible? And the one shooting i thought took play in McDonald's parking lot. Should the city go after them next? Seems the city should be able to do something better than to just keep shutting these places down!

eotw33 6 years, 1 month ago

  1. They're not police when they're off duty 2. preventing this type of behavior before it happens would involve profiling and you have to work for the TSA to do that legally 3. Who cares about McDonalds either the bullets can kill you or the food 4. The other bars are college bars that involve drunk frat boys not thugs with guns from Topeka. 5. I guess the city can profile legally too

puddleglum 6 years, 1 month ago

how long will it take the city of lawrence to figure out that all we need to do is set up checkpoints on the west side of the county and block SN county tag cars from entry, or at least charge them $100 toll for entry?

The other answer is to send a bill to city of Topeka every time we waste our law enforcement dollars on babysitting Their citizens. sounds fair to me.

eotw33 6 years, 1 month ago

  1. All the other bars are usually extremely busy and therefor provide much more tax revenue, especially with all those tickets being issued. Frat boys parents will pay those tickets for them, I'm guessing the taste crowd are less likely to do so

Anthony Mall 6 years, 1 month ago

3/5 bars owned by the same person hmmmm, coincidence???

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 1 month ago

Or maybe they are just the busiest and biggest bars in town because people feel safe there. If a bar calls because someone locked their keys in their car, that would be included in the number of calls. This list doesn't compare apples to apples, since all calls are not the same. But what the city is looking at are violent incidents.

Anthony Mall 6 years, 1 month ago

Obviously u haven't been to the ranch lol.... Fights every night!!!

cutny 6 years, 1 month ago

Guessing they won't be going after the Oread and its deep-pocketed, well-connected backers anytime soon.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 1 month ago

Where would the local celebrities go to fight?

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 1 month ago

The Cave at The Oread needs to be filled in with concrete.

Scott Drummond 6 years, 1 month ago

This location has been a menace for years and years. Remote, semi hidden location makes it a magnet for sub-human elements from Topeka and KC hoods.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 1 month ago

I think we're increasingly seeing that Lawrence has its fair share of shaddy characters as well...and I don't mean Darrell Arthur. It's time to stop blaming it all on out-of-towners.

puddleglum 6 years, 1 month ago

even the owner is from Topeka... you can't really help but blame this on the topeka crowd. the time to stop blaming it on out-of-towners is when our police force will step up to Topeka's police enforcement standards and actually aggressively go after these thugs and end 'tolerance' .... Why do you think they come down here to Lawrence? The women are from Topeka, so are the men. TPD doesn't put up with these types, that's why. meanwhile, the LPD does nothing to these people, other than write a couple parking tickets. We need a camp set up outside of town with 20' fence where we can imprison these folk and send the bill to city of Topeka

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 1 month ago

What's it matter what type of ' crowd ' it caters to?

jaywalker 6 years, 1 month ago

When that type of crowd comes packin' heat and is willing to let the lead fly, it matters.

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, math was never my strong point :)

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see a good comparison of the violent crime incidents at all of the bars in town.

LN is right - if you read the story, not all "calls" involve violent crime.

Of course, we could also consider how much underage drinking we want to allow bars as well.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

I'd go the other way - bars and restaurants should enforce laws regarding underage drinking.

But either way, we should be consistent.

Mike Ford 6 years, 1 month ago

safety is one thing......ethnic cleansing is another.....

CreatureComforts 6 years, 1 month ago

Being a bit liberal with the "ethnic cleansing" phrase, are we?

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 1 month ago

You cannot compare establishments by these numbers. All the places with the most calls are the larger establishments. This is like saying Dallas is a more dangerous place to live than Topeka because Dallas has more tickets, crimes, accidents and shootings than topeka.

somedude20 6 years, 1 month ago

So if you want a bar to close you just have to create 2-3 incidents (at least one with a gun) in the span of a few months? Great, start blackmailing bars by demanding $100 a week or else my cronies and I will wreak havoc outside your place

Richard Payton 6 years, 1 month ago

Carry Amelia Moore Nation would approve of closing the bar.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

As long as these types gather at the same place and are shooting and stabbing and punching each other (and not the general public), it's just mighty fine to keep it open. A person knows what they're getting into when they go to one of these joints and they know the kind of people they're gonna be rubbing shoulders with..... They're (the patrons) doing us all a favor by gathering together and taking each other out. It's a good thing. Reframe. Refocus. Think outside the box for a change.

Gedanken 6 years, 1 month ago

While I agree that it is the bar's responsibility to provide a safe environment. It doesn't have strong control over what happens OUTSIDE. That responsibility is left up to the Lawrence Police Department. They should have a stronger presence in the area if they know that a certain activity is elevated in the area!!

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

if a bar is a proven trouble spot at closing and we need a police presence to keep the peace please charge the bar owners for the cost of the police required to waste their time (and our money) being there

Gedanken 6 years, 1 month ago

Safety in public areas is what the police are hired to provide. This is why they exist. If it is a problem area then the cops need to focus on it.

The bar may be attracting the wrong clientele, but if the cops are all over then eventually it will get the message across that maybe the troublesome clientele should go elsewhere.

Seriously, by your logic we should charge KU atheletics every time KU basketball goes to show due to the required increased police presence on Mass.

jehovah_bob 6 years, 1 month ago

C'mon City of Lawrence officials, let's just call a spade a spade.

jehovah_bob 6 years, 1 month ago

Wait, no, that didn't come out right.

Bring back NightOwls. You can't conceal a gun if it's clothing optional.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 1 month ago

Close the place and they will just scatter to other places. We don't have to like it, but if you leave it open at least they are all concentrated in one place, we know where they are, and if warrents need to be served, then there is a place to start. Thugs and miscreants need to have somewhere to go, so it seems to me we are better off leaving it open and trying to work with the owners.

pizzapete 6 years, 1 month ago

I remember drinking 3.2 beer at the Crossing when I attended KU. The bar wasn't allowed to serve alcohol or strong beer because of their close proximity to a church. A local developer built a highrise hotel at that same location (Oread/Cave) and now they are able to serve alcohol and are even asking the city to allow drinking in the street on game days. How can that be? Why does our city allow big developers to break the rules while our small businessmen are put under a microscope and are often forced out of business as a result?

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

The Cave and the Ranch. I've written quite a bit about corruption in this village. This story puts some numbers on it.

Anthony Mall 6 years, 1 month ago

Parking lots at Taste, The Ranch, and other bars are private property owned by the bar. It is a bars responsibility to insure the safety of patrons in the bar and outside while on the premises. It is not the responsibility of the Police to stand or park around bars all night long. If you want police on every corner that's great, just pay for more officers, more cars, and better facilities. You can't have your cake and eat it too Lawrence.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 1 month ago


did you ever think this also may be why these bars have more calls. If a patrons car gets hit, they need to call for an officer. If a car needs towed, they need to call for an officer. If someone is locked out of their car, they need to call for an officer. If a neighboring business has a car towed, they need to call for an officer.

And anything that happens downtown is not attributed to a specific bar because they cannot determine where the perpetrator was. A fight in the street by the Ranch "public property" is going to be attributed to the Ranch. A fight at 11 and Mass is just going to be a general call and not attributed to a specific bar.

RDE87 6 years, 1 month ago

"A bar that loses its city-issued liquor license could still serve alcohol under its state license, but the city would not be able to collect alcohol sales tax funds, Sublet said."

So what is the point of revoking their liquor license? Seems like the city will just lose revenue.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

double secret probation is a much more effective deterrent

letthetruthbetold 6 years, 1 month ago

Just looking at the facts it's hard to understand how the City of Lawrence can justify what they are doing. What's even more disturbing is that they are going to get away with it. Lets call it what it is... Another minority owned business that caters to a hip hop crowd is being targeted, discriminated against, racial profiled, however you want to call it... and will be shut down. We need to do something... March on MASS? Show up at the City Hall Meeting 100 deep? Who's down for action?

jaywalker 6 years, 1 month ago

"safety is one thing......ethnic cleansing is another....."

I'd like to congratulate tusch on finally condensing his idiocy to ten-words-or-less.

KU_Jayhawk2014 6 years, 1 month ago

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