Tavern owners: L&I bars our business
Angry meeting calls agency's closings 'illegal'
There wasn't much love for the city's Department of Licenses and Inspection at Mr. C's Love Lounge yesterday.
The bar, next to the 19th District police station, on Haverford Avenue near 61st Street, in West Philadelphia, played host to a meeting of area bar and tavern owners who say that they've been unfairly shut down by L&I.
Caleb Carter, owner of Mr. C's, and other bar owners in attendance claimed that L&I forced them to close their doors after being cited for various violations. They claim that they are entitled to 30 days to correct such violations before being closed.
Carter said that his bar was raided March 13 by state troopers from the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and an inspector from L&I.
He was charged with selling alcohol after 2 a.m., and his bar was cited for electrical problems and forced to close until March 24, when the citation was lifted, he said.
He argues that he was not allowed a single day of the 30 to address the problem before the bar was, in his words, "illegally closed" by L&I.
"There's strength and power in numbers," Carter said to members of the Philadelphia License and Tavern Merchant Association in attendance. "We have to come together on one accord."
"It's a sad day today, with what we're going through with L&I," said Jerry Jordan, owner of the Mark V Lounge, on 52d Street near Girard Avenue.
Jordan said that L&I has not only forced him to close a number of times, but that inspectors wait until Friday and Saturday nights around 1 a.m., when the bar is busiest, to close the bar for violations and clear out patrons.
"We can't waste time," Jordan said. "The longer we wait, the worse it gets."
"All we want is time [to address violations]" said Prince Gilliard, owner of Prince's Jazz Lounge, on Fairmount Avenue near 50th Street.
Association members hope to pool their money to hire an attorney, something they hope will allow them to fight L&I's forced closings.
Representatives from L&I could not be reached for comment after office hours yesterday. *
CORRECTION: This story incorrectly states that Jerry Jordan's Mark V Lounge had been closed for violations by the Department of Licenses & Inspections. When he was speaking of bar closings, he was speaking collectively on behalf of the owners in attendance. Jordan's bar was never closed for violations. (added June 11, 2009, 4:47 p.m.)