The owner of The Venue bar in the Walker area faced a number of complaints drafted from the State Attorney General’s Office during a Michigan Liquor Control Commission violation hearing Wednesday.
The bar is popular with the college crowd and had been accused of a number of issues including nudity, topless dancing and the service of alcohol to minors.
The Walker City Commission had already voted to recommend to the MLCC that the bar’s license get pulled.
The hearing in Grand Rapids Wednesday only dealt with a list of five select complaints drafted from the state.
During the violation hearing, Assistant Attorney General Jason Geissler presented a complaint that was written based on Walker Police reports.
There were five charges listed in the complaint involving incidents stemming from August of 2012.
August 28, 2012 “allowed topless activity or nudity”
August 10, 2012 “allowed the annoying or molesting of a customer”
August, 2012 “occupied by persons other than the licensee….and employees, between 2:30 and 7:00 am.”
August, 2012 “sold or furnished liquor to various unknown patrons, between 2:30 and 7:00 am”
August, 2012 “permitted the consumption of alcoholic upon the licensed premises by various unknown patrons, between 2:30 and 7:00 am.”
Samantha Hagarty was part of the now controversial “body painting night” in August where part of the charges and accusations on nudity stem from.
She defended The Venue against police complaints that the women involved in the event were nude.
Hagarty said the women were all painted in the bathroom, not in front of customers.
She also explained that the body paint was so thick, you couldn’t see anything beneath the many layers of latex paint.
Hagarty was the woman police questioned the night of the body painting incident.
At that time an officer testified she lifted up her shirt to show him the body paint, but he said the paint had peeled, exposing one of her breasts.
She claimed she did not lift up her shirt enough for him to see it and said the paint had peeled because it had stuck to the shirt she had put on, not because she was nude in the bar.
The Venue owner, Aajay Chhabra, also argued that the promoter told him body paint is considered legal clothing and provided a brochure as proof.
The more heated exchanges of the hearing broke out when a former bartender testified against the owner’s son, Sharan Chhabra.
He claimed Sharan had annoyed or molested him during an argument in which Sharan pushed and threatened him.
Sharan said that wasn’t true and had picked up a bottle to defend himself against the former employee that night, saying he was the aggressor.
The Venue’s attorney got a slight warning from the commissioner during questioning of the bartender.
“I believe he’s attacking me,” said Gabe Wise, former Venue bartender.
“Will you be nice to this guy?” asked the commissioner.
Then another exchange between the commission and The Venue’s attorney took place after he requested a continuance.
Is this your last request in terms of you need this one officer’s testimony?” said the commissioner.
“I don’t know….”, said Jack Vande Bunte, The Venue’s attorney.
“I’m not going to have a circus go on forever,” said Edward Gaffney, the MLCC commissioner.
He did grant The Venue’s request for a continuance because one of the officers who was expected to be available to testify at the hearing was out of town.
The violation hearing Wednesday is separate from a hearing at which the MLCC will decide if the liquor license for The Venue should be revoked.
That will take place at a later date.
- Police Reports Show Why The Venue Is In Danger Of Losing Liquor License (fox17online.com)
- List Of Accusations Is Long For Standale Bar In Danger Of Losing License (fox17online.com)
- Walker Bar Liquor License in Jeopardy (fox17online.com)
- ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ says Venue owner after Walker votes against liquor license renewal (mlive.com)