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Jakes’ license in limbo

BY KATHRYN STINSON | JANUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Iowa City city councilors expressed disappointment Monday with local bar owner Mike Porter for failing to meet a fire-code compliance deadline.

The City Council moved its decision on Porter’s liquor-license renewal for One-Eyed Jakes, 18-20 S. Clinton St., to Feb. 16.

Porter had requested the two week hold because of delays in widening the staircase and bring the establishment up to firecode standards.

Last week, the City Council received a recommendation from Iowa City Fire Chief Andrew Rocca to deny Porter’s request for a liquor-licence renewal because of his failure to comply with the stairway-width regulations in the International Fire Code.

Rocca’s recommendation noted Porter had until Dec. 31, 2009, to complete the stairway renovation for his establishment. One-Eyed Jakes general manager Tom Lenoch said work didn’t begin on the project until Jan. 4.

“I don’t think the applicant does himself any favors by ignoring a contract that he signed a year and a half ago,” Mayor Matt Hayek said Monday.

Councilor Regenia Bailey asked Porter why the project was taking so long; he replied the reasons were mostly financial.

“Expanding a staircase isn’t a simple issue,” he said. “Anyone who owns a small business knows spending $180,000 is quite a project.”

The bar will remain closed for the duration of the renovation.

Councilor Connie Champion said she felt the lost financial revenue was enough punishment for Porter and that the City Council shouldn’t discipline him any further.

“There is no sense to deny with it under construction,” she said. “It’s his loss, not ours.”

However, the council renewed One-Eyed Jakes’ dance permit at Monday’s meeting.

Porter, who also owns the Summit, 10 S. Clinton St., was recently denied a liquor-license renewal by the City Council because his establishment’s PAULA-per-police-visit ratio exceeded the 1.0 city limit. In November, Porter filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the city’s new PAULA policy is unconstitutional.

He also owns Vito’s, 118 E. College St., which is closed for a month after receiving a citation for selling alcohol to minors.

The councilors’ decision to deny Summit’s license renewal came after they denied licenses to 3rd Base, 111 E. College St., and Et Cetera, 118 S. Dubuque St. An administrative law judge later granted the latter two owners permission to keep their liquor licenses, and the city has appealed to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Decision.

One-Eyed Jakes will reopen before the Feb. 16 meeting.


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