A Lawrence bar that has been the site of three recent shootings will have its city drinking establishment license revoked, and city commissioners minced no words in ordering it done Tuesday night.
Commissioners unanimously directed staff members to revoke the license of Taste, 804 W. 24th St. Commissioners heard a presentation from the city attorney’s office that the night club had been the site of three shootings in the last six months.
Commissioners at their weekly meeting said they weren’t at all convinced the ownership of the club had taken the violence problems seriously enough.
“When the first shooting happens, that is a disaster. It can’t happen again,” City Commissioner Hugh Carter, who previously managed entertainment venues for national casino companies, told Lee Riley, the bar’s owner. “And you have had three of them. If you are not more freaked out about this than anyone else, you are not the one to be solving the problem.”
The future of Taste was uncertain Tuesday night. Legally, it can operate without the city’s drinking establishment license, although it could be charged with a misdemeanor city offense.
The city has no power to revoke the business’ state liquor license. But city commissioners directed staff members to file a formal request with the Alcohol Beverage Control division to revoke the bar’s liquor license. Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet said that request will be filed within a matter of days, but he did not have an estimate on when the state agency may consider the revocation.
Riley declined to comment after Tuesday’s commission meeting. During the meeting, he said he was shaken by the shootings but said he thought some of the violence stemmed from promotion companies that were drawing a non-typical crowd to his establishment. He said he no longer is using those music promotion companies.
“The promoters threw profitable shows, but it brought in a different crowd,” Riley said. “We had to learn the hard way not to deal with every promoter.”