Local bar’s alcohol license not renewed

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A local bar and grill hit by violence will close if the Allen County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission has anything to do with it.

Monday, the board voted unanimously not to renew the alcohol license for Sports and Spirits Bar and Grill on East Wayne Street.

NewsChannel 15 spoke to one of the owners of the bar who said he is doing what he can in a bad neighborhood and doesn’t condone illegal behavior. However, police said it has nothing to do with the neighborhood, but the ownership.

Fort Wayne Police responded to 68 calls to the bar last year and 67 so far this year. That includes multiple shootings, stabbings and shots fired.

“That’s what drew our attention to Sports and Spirits. That’s why we sent undercover agents in,” said Captain Kevin Hunter of the Fort Wayne Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics, Gang and Violent Crime Unit.

Captain Kevin Hunter sent his detectives there more than once.

“There was open marijuana smoking and actually dealing inside the bar.”

However, a spokesperson from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission said it was at least one violation within the last year and community members’ concerns that led to Monday’s meeting.

Even before the meeting, though, bar owners wanted to move its location, hoping violence wouldn’t follow.

Titus Terry frequents the bar.

“It’s a good environment but you know at times it could be on the iffy side,” said Terry.

NewsChannel 15 spoke to Burke Baughman in length. He and his brother bought the bar about five years ago. He said he’s doing what he can to remedy the situation, even adding security cameras. He claims illegal activity is almost impossible to monitor.

“The owners can control what goes on inside that bar, I strongly believe that he permitted a lot of that stuff to happen inside there and that’s why he had the clients that he did,” said Hunter.

It’s something Hunter said won’t be fixed by relocating.

“Probably a good thing for the community on this side of town, but as far as regulars that go there, I’m sure they’ll miss it a whole lot,” said Terry.

Baughman said he’s now considering turning his business into a restaurant or even convenience store at that location.

This case now goes to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. If it agrees with the local recommendation, the bar and grill is entitled to a hearing. Then, it goes back to the state commission. In the meantime, the business can serve alcohol during the appeals process.

Police said they hope this serves as a warning for other businesses.

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