Downstairs Sports Bar to lose liquor license

After negotiating with Whitewater City Attorney Wallace McDonnell, Downstairs Sports Bar owner Robert Sweet has agreed to the non-renewal of his “Class B” beer and liquor alcohol license.

The Alcohol Licensing Review Committee, made up of common council members Jim Olsen, Lynn Binnie and Stephanie Abbott, reviewed the agreement and presented it to the common council last night.

The council then unanimously approved the agreement with a 6-0 vote due to the absence of Abbott.

The Downstairs Sports Bar. Photo by Daniel Sheldon.

According to the agreement, the Downstairs Sports Bar, located at 204 W. Main St., was cited seven times for allowing underage persons on its premises since May 27, 2011. The agreement also said McDonnell and Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher intended to bring forward a request to the council to suspend, revoke or non-renew Sweet’s license.

“The quick answer is that [Sweet has] had seven citations within the last year for underage persons on premises,” McDonnell said about why he requested the non-renewal of the license.

Sweet had no comment on the current situation.

Council President Patrick Singer said the council immediately approved the motion presented to them by the committee because they trust its judgment.

The license will be non-renewed beginning in June and will not be allowed renewal for the months of July and August. However, Sweet can renew his license in September if the following conditions are met after inspection from the Whitewater Police Department:

• Digital video cameras have to be mounted to cover the entire premises.

• The bar may not sell, dispense or give away alcohol to persons under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that render them incapable of safely driving; the bar will produce written training and policy manuals

• The bar has to check the Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP) record of the person they are hiring before hiring any bartender or bouncer

• The bar will require every patron who appears under the age of 30 to show an official I.D. card and to swipe the card through an electronic device to determine the I.D. valid.

The agreement does not prohibit the Downstairs Sports Bar from being open during the months of June, July and August for non-alcohol related business, the agreement said.

In a memorandum from Sweet’s attorney Rick Petri, Petri stated the Downstairs Sports Bar has held its alcohol beverage license for approximately 13 years and until recently, appears to have had a good record with no prior suspensions, revocations or non-renewals.

“In none of the seven citation situations identified above was Bob Sweet the individual who checked the identification of those attempting to enter,” the memo said in defense of Sweet. “They were employees who apparently were not scrupulous in their review of the identification of the individuals for which the citations were subsequently issued.”

Abbott said the police department and Otterbacher have the ability to make a suggestion but everything lies in the hands of the committee and council.

Otterbacher agreed.

“Anything where there is a number of violations, once we hit a couple, then we can bring it up to the Alcohol Licensing Committee,” Otterbacher said. “We can only inform them.”


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