Should Birmingham revoke South Bar's liquor license after the controversial bar and restaurant permanently shut its doors Tuesday?
That's the question the Birmingham City Commission will have to consider in the next few weeks, as a proposed hearing revoking the license is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 13. City commissioners will vote Monday night whether to set the hearing.
The option to revoke the license comes before the city commission after two controversial and highly-publicized shootings in downtown Birmingham by South Bar patrons. The first occured on April 2, when a Redford woman discharged a gun in the midst of a fight outside Einstein Bros Bagels.
The second shooting happened early last week, after a fight by South patrons led to a shot fired on Merrill Street. In both instances, no one was hurt and all suspects — including last week's alleged shooter, Southfield's Ryan Smith, 22 — have been arrested.
To have the license revoked, the Birmingham City Commission would have to file a request with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), the only body with the power to issue or revoke Michigan liquor licenses.
Before the hearing, however, the city is required to conduct an investigation into the business. That investigation was launched in April following the initial shooting. At the time, City Manager Bob Bruner directed the City Attorney's Office and police to investigate the number of incidents at South, as well as other restaurants and bars across the city.
According to language in Monday night's city commission agenda, revocation of South's liquor license — which is owned by Woodward Tap, Inc. — is being requested due to:
"a pattern of patron conduct in the neighborhood of the licensed premises which is in violation of the law and/or disturbs the peace, order, and tranquility of the neighborhood and constitues the Licensee's maintenance of a nuisance upon or in connection with the licensed premises in violation of the standards in Section 10-40 of the City Code."
Should a hearing be scheduled, representatives from South or Woodward Tap may represent themself with counsel and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf.
When a liquor license is revoked, Bruner said that license disappears and the licensee isn't able to obtain another for two years. The city can, however, issue another Class C "quota" license.
The Birmingham City Commission has been here before. In 2007, the city stripped the Blue Martini, once located at 201 Hamilton Row, of its liquor license after multiple police incidents at that bar. In that case, the commission voted against renewing the liquor license during the city's annual renewal process. That liquor license went into escrow for year.