Local News Organization Starts Petition to Challenge South Bar's Liquor License

Downtown Publications, which publishes Downtown Magazine in Birmingham, has created a petition to challenge South Bar's liquor license after a gun was fired outside the bar last weekend.

, the publisher behind Birmingham's Downtown Magazine, has created a petition at Change.org to challenge the liquor license for South Bar.

The petition was created after after a fight between two women. On Wednesday, released a photo of the woman believed to have shot the small handgun twice in the air; after turning herself in later that day, the woman is currently being questioned.

According to the petition, Monday's shooting is just the latest in an "ongoing series of incidents involving patrons of this bar/nightclub which have included fights and even a stabbing."

"The situation at South Bar constitutes a serious diversion of public safety resources from the rest of the Birmingham community and the latest gunfire incident constitutes a serious threat to public safety for those living in downtown Birmingham, along with visitors to the community's downtown area," the petition reads.

As of Thursday night, the petition had 43 signatures.

Originally, the petition called for the city to revoke South's liquor license, however City Manager Bob Bruner said Thursday that only the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) has the authority to revoke licenses — not the city. The updated petition asks the Birmingham City Commission to "work toward rescinding" and challenge the South Bar liquor license.

Birmingham may file a request for the revocation of the liquor license with the MLCC, a process which involves an investigation and a public hearing.

"These actions have potentially significant consequences for both the city and the licensee, so we will address the immediate public safety concerns by increasing police patrols while carefully and thoughtfully weighing our options," Bruner said.

Meanwhile, objections to the renewal of the liquor license must be received by the MLCC no later than March 31 every year, meaning South's liquor license renewal won't come up again until 2013.

South has troubled history with fights, police

This isn't the first time South has had a brush with the police.

On Aug. 1, police charged two men from Detroit and Lathrup Village with felonious assault after . The men were reportedly part of an entourage with New York Jets wide receiver and Detroit native Braylon Edwards.

for extortion and slander after employees connected him to the fight.

The number of police incidents at South Bar was a heated topic of discussion at the . The commission called for special hearings for South and the Hamilton Room due to the number of disturbances there, noting it costs the city money to police these establishments.

“If our police department are going to be taxed by one or two establishments, that costs money,” Commissioner Rackeline Hoff said at the time. “It is costing money to prevent altercations.”

Both licenses were renewed and during the , Commissioner Stuart Sherman applauded both bars — including South — for accommodating commissioner concerns and cutting down on the number of police incidents.

"Both (South and the Hamilton Room) have made great strides in improving their situations," Sherman said.

Still, residents were concerned following Monday morning's shooting. More than 25 comments discussing the issue were left on the Birmingham Patch's Facbeook page.

"The city and bars need to address the violence that seems to have occurred around a few bars in town over the past few years," Brian Welch said. "This isn't the first time such incidents have taken place ... Bars don't have a right to operate if they keep attracting troublemakers."

City to conduct investigation, up police patrols downtown

Going forward, Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt said police will increase their patrols in downtown Birmingham to prevent any similiar incidents.

"This type of dangerous behavior is unacceptable by any standard and will not be tolerated," Studt said. "The men and women of the Birmingham Police Department are committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy Birmingham safely."

Bruner said though the next Birmingham City Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, the issue won't be on the agenda and won't be discussed in detail until city staff conducts the required investigation.

"I think I speak for everyone in the city government when I saw we understand how detrimental incidents like this can be to our community," Bruner said. "We are taking this incident seriously and are doing everything we can to ensure Birmingham is safe for everyone. However the public should not expect city officials to make any further public comments on this incident until the investigation is complete."

Those interested in signing the petition should visit Change.org

SW April 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM
The issue here IS NOT the stabbing or the shooting. It's the fact that South is just a bad establishment. Terrible food, horrendous decor, lackluster service, overly pretentious scene (for no real reason either). The community doesn't support the establishment, proven because the only people frequenting the establishment aren't from the area (they are from Redford). It's as if they never owned a restaurant/bar or based the concept off the nightclub in the movie Carlito's Way. South shouldn't lose their license because of crowd incidents. That can (and does) happen all the time in lots of locations. It should lose its license because it sucks.
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I agree. You can't blame South for these incidents. But you can blame South for being a bad establishment. And we can pressure the city to close you down because you sold a bill of goods that you haven't delivered on. South is a haven for bad behavior...you've built it into the DNA of the place knowingly or not (I am guessing not as from the look and feel of the place I don't believe you've ever run a restaurant before).
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Steve, no offense, but the fact remains you guys focus on 1 thing: the nightclub portion of your business. The food, wait service and vibe of South are horrible to non-existant. The "food" is a joke. Hell, even the commercial you guys produced only highlighted one thing...the nightclub. If South were to update these other areas and round out the offering, I think there would be less issues with the community. As it stands, your offering is weak.
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM
The 50 employees are being hurt because of your ownership/managerial/vision for the establishment. You guys have no business being in this type of operation. It shows.
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Spadafore's comment below should be flagged as inappropriate for saying the food is good.
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The issue here IS NOT the stabbing or the shooting. It's the fact that South is just a bad establishment. Terrible food, horrendous decor, lackluster service, overly low class scene (for no real reason either). The community doesn't support the establishment, proven because the only people frequenting the establishment aren't from the area (they are from Redford). It's as if they never owned a restaurant/bar or based the concept off the nightclub in the movie Carlito's Way. South shouldn't lose their license because of crowd incidents. That can (and does) happen all the time in lots of locations. It should lose its license because it sucks.
SW April 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM
It's because South does not care about any patron besides the one that drinks heavily after 10pm.
SW April 11, 2012 at 01:01 PM
This shows a lack of oversight. Who manages the place? What you are saying is that the inmates run the asylum.
GW April 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Just the fact that you call it a "club" is disturbing. I hope South makes it, and becomes a fun local spot. It seems like most of the probelms occur late at night. If you're serious about improving things, why don't you shut down at midnight instead of two a.m.?
GW April 11, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I also grew up in Birmingham. I've been in South many times. It has a different crowd every time I'm there, based on the night of the week and the time of the day. I think you would be well served to cool it with the special events and the Sunday night gigs -- or it will be lights out for South. How about shutting down at midnight as a way to keep the bad element out? Also, whyt don't you eliminate valet parking to get rid of the cheesy South Beach-wanna be scene out front where many of the confrontations occur?
GW April 11, 2012 at 01:56 PM
You're acting as if a Catholic education somehow results in higher morals and standards; as if the rest of us are heathens. As if somehow the Brother Rice and Marian crowd is a little purer than the rest of us? Your post is a little off-issue.
Painful Honesty April 11, 2012 at 05:49 PM
wow reaaaaaaly sounds like a perfect birmingham vs the world kind of attitude
Painful Honesty April 11, 2012 at 05:56 PM
apparently blog post lives in a world of make believe in a gumdrop house on lollipop lane (I think thats near downtown birmingham) by the way. Nowhere is perfect does anyone really believe owners of businesses are happy about crimes? they want to run a successful business and create a good thing for all, blaming owners for patrons stupid behavior, is like saying a woman should be raped because of how she is dressed. It's easy to stand back and TELL people how to do something if so many people are better at running a business step on up and open a bar lets just see how well YOU do.
Erin Goryl April 11, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I also find it odd that Ted Fuller at Cafe Via who is launching a big attack against South can get away with having a bistro license with a 55 seat max and yet there are 90 seats in there. And there have been 2 assaults there over the last year yet he is not being investigated for what happened in the restaurant, not outside of it.
Alan Stamm April 11, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Really? I thought April Fool's Day was at the start of this month. That's an interesting standard you propose for state-licensed establishments: Don't suck if you want to do business in Birmingham. Good thing you're not on the city commission or Liquor Control Commission, S.W. And oh yes: You do know fictional nightclub manager Carlito Brigante was an ex-con dope pusher, right?
J Peter April 11, 2012 at 06:53 PM
South just doesn't fit in with Birmingham period. City commission seems to recognize this and residents are speaking up in a variety of means including the "absurd" survey. The litany of people aligned with the economic interests of this place can post all they want (I don't blame them for protecting their investment). I truly believe the owners have good intentions and I also believe that nobody on the other side is in any way opposed to supporting local businesses. But both of those points are irrelevant when you look at the basic facts: More visible and embarrassing incidents occur at South and they hurt Birmingham. Lower reputation = lower property value . . . not to mention the cost and burden placed on law enforcement. The "night club" is a lightning rod for rough people based on the crowds I've seen (fighting or otherwise) outside over time. If you've ever been in South you will also meet good people working there and dining there. But overall it's just not working. Either they need to drastically change their format and procedures or the city needs to shut it down. I fully believe either of those things will happen (probably the latter) if it doesn’t go out of business based on its own reputation.
Painful Honesty April 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM
hmm, seems blog post, may be a Disgruntled employee, possibly a business competitor or a crabby shut in? I did a little search and can't find any connections with Mrs. Hester and the owners? so how would YOU, BLOG POST know this? sounds like your someone with an agenda other than SAVING the wonderful town of Birmingham?
Painful Honesty April 11, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I looked this story up? was awhile ago and they were awaiting blood results to come back,, no updates since then, which if they were positive would seem to me would be ON the news. more likely the girl in question probably was taking handfuls of prescrip meds or diet pills or drank a case of 5 hr energy and had a reaction. Do some research GHB doesnt "wear off" in a short time Again if blood tests had come back positive wheres the investigation? the request for camera footage? etc. GUESS Birmingham PD better be Fired for failing to do their job orrrrr it never happened
Alan Stamm April 11, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I get most of your points, and your "just doesn't fit" conclusion could be right. What's questionable, in my view, is the belief -- also voiced by others -- that "lower reputation = lower property value." That may seem intuitively valid, but I wonder if it's more than a hunch. Residential values are determined mainly by neighborhood, school district quality, market conditions and a community's general image (recreation, dining, retail, amenities, public services, overall crime rate), based on what I've read. Nighttime safety downtown surely plugs into the equation somewhere . . . though perhaps not as neatly or directly as you suggest. But hey, J.P., I'm just a homeowner who can't imagine prospective buyers see South's "rough people" as a deal-breaker or offer-lowering reason if they like a home, neighborhood, local schools and general vibe. It'd be useful to hear from a real estate pro, though these comment threads have been a free-fire zone for one Realtor who dared to speak publicly.
J Peter April 11, 2012 at 08:15 PM
You're right Alan, it's hard to objectively define the real estate value proposition. But crime is clearly a consideration and the reputation of birmingham has long been a draw for property buyers. From personal experience I live in Birmingham and my family and I were looking to buy a bigger house in town as our family grows. We elected not to simply because we are worried about the future of the city. Irrational? I don't think so. Many of our neighbors feel the same. These are good hard working people who want the area to maintain the reputation is had in years past. Whether the owners like it or not the stabbing, nearby shooting and other fight incidents cause residents to be understandably concerned. I think it's reasonable to assume prospective residents would be just as concerned.
SW April 12, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Sorry Alan Stamm. They'll lose their license when they go out of business because the place sucks. How's that?
Blog Post April 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM
@Painful Honesty "Want to create a good thing for all" Explain how it is a good thing for me, or anyone else on my block. We live here. Unlike you.
GW April 12, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I'm not in favor of South being shut down. But I'm definitely in favor of taking more steps to clean the place up. Same for the Hamilton Club and Chen Chow. I wish these bars/nightclubs/loungs/clubs were paying for the beefed up patrols instead of the citizens of this town. Most residents of Birmingham will never set foot in the Hamilton Club or Chen Chow, but South can be rehabilitated.
Blog Post April 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM
@Painful Honesty It is obvious. And you don't live here.
Painful Honesty April 12, 2012 at 02:30 PM
There's obviously hate filled people that have an issue with this place, I've been here not even a fan of it, but BARS, restaraunts, stores, ALL have to go thru city planning/commissions/licenses, South was approved by all. If anyone is to blame its Birmingham planners Who are obviously ignorant if they think any bar of ANY kind is going to be trouble free. There isn't ONE bar in Michigan that hasn't had police issues for something. The point is you can't say ok come in spend millions building and outfitting a place and then turn around and say oh sorry you don't fit, get out. At this point I'm sure south would Love to take some buyout offers to walk away, ANYONE wanna step up? As for the comments just "change your format" what a joke take a statistics class to form an edjucated descision on making changes it takes time. Mcdonalds doesn't put something on the menu and after a week of poor sales take it away. I'm sure everyones been to the palace or dte or ford field an witnessed fights and mayhem. should they shut down? lose their license? because of some idiots? Wake up they're everywhere. What this is, is simple It's High end birmingham attitudes that don't want outsiders that live by average means. before ya get to it NO I don't live in birmingham, BUT I meet plenty of people from birmingham in RO Rochester AND detroit bars, those cities don't want the problems with bars either but they're grown up enough to understand that crime is everywhere.
Sal Garmo April 12, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Its obviously you have some ties with south and i understand that you are backing your employer or friend but your statement holds no value. Your comparing an item on McDonalds menu to a format of a bar? McDonalds is a multi BILLION dollar industry. They can roll the dice on placing a rib sandwich on there menu and let it ride out to see if the product can pick up some momentum in sales. That rib sandwich is not going to make people shoot, stab, fight thats the difference between what McDonalds can do when trying out a concept and what South can do when trying a different concept. South tryed the Sunday night circus and all that came out of it was a a whole lot of negative publicity including stabbing, shooting and brawls.
Sal Garmo April 12, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Ive been reading alot of the comments on this article and the previous articles about South and its sad that such a great looking place like South cant find a way to make it work. As a bar/nightclub owner myself (by the way I've never enrolled in a statistics class) there are ways to make it in this tough industry and it seems like South has no clue. The owners of South knew what they were getting into when they decided to create South and that includes the RENT! If you cant handle a large lease then your probably shouldn't have invested in the business. I remember a friend of mine who works at South telling me that the security staff has to pat patrons down and check pursues for weapons on Sunday nights it clearly shows that you have a problem with your crowds on Sunday. Since everyone on this board thinks this petition is a race issue i would like the owner of South to come on this board and explain why he hired security to pat down customers on Sunday nights and not any other night of the week.
Painful Honesty April 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Couldn't resist HAHAHAHA well heres ANOTHER EXAMPLE. Just saw on the news A 25-year-old Farmington Hills man faces charges after being accused of attacking a cab driver early Sunday morning in Birmingham The man and two other passengers were picked up at Corner Bar right before 2 a.m. that morning. O go pull their license, shut them down, why are they open til 2 AM on a sunday morning? blah blah blah, wheres their petition? I'm pretty sure that just about rounds out every business in Birmingham having some type of crime where's the outcry on this one?
GW April 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Dear Painful: What's interesting is that nearly all of the problems occur at bars and loungers that many -- if not most -- people around town wish would shut their doors. The number of problems elsewhere around town are minimal. I haven't heard of any knife fights or weapon searches anywhere but South. The other bad actors are Hamilton Room and Chen Chow. Problems with the other lounges and clubs in town are rare because they aren't lounges and clubs. With all of this said, I truly hope South can clean up its act and thrive.
Blog Post April 14, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Keep posting, non-resident & South bar owner relative, we care what you think, just as much as people in Plymouth care what we think about their recent "street design" expenses, or people in Hartland care what we think about their M-59 park project. (if you are slow, I am saying we don't care)


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