SMOKEY JOE'S Officials ban bar's sale of alcohol
Since July, a homicide, four shootings and a stabbing have taken place outside the bar.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Division of Liquor Control officials have banned a controversial Uptown district bar from serving alcohol until Dec. 12.
The liquor control commission placed the 35-day liquor permit suspension on the owners of the Smokey Joe's Tavern at 2722 Market St. for violations of state liquor law.
Bar owner Joenub Inc. was cited for two liquor law violations, said Patty Haskins, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control.
The first was a citation for serving alcohol to two minors Feb. 21. The second was for hindering or obstructing inspection May 1.
The commission ruled that the bar's license be suspended for 30 days beginning Wednesday for the May violation, and for five consecutive days for the February violation. The suspension will end at noon Dec. 12.
Haskins said bar owners had until Oct. 31 to appeal the rulings. Erika Sowry, assistant to the director at the commission, said such an appeal was not filed.
City's effort: The suspension comes on the heels of a city effort to have the bar ruled a nuisance and shut down by the Mahoning County Common Pleas court.
Dana Guarnieri, an assistant city law director, said the city seeks a court-ordered preliminary injunction that would close the bar until a judge can determine if it should be permanently closed.
She said she expects a magistrate to rule on the preliminary injunction within days.
"The health, safety and welfare of the city is at risk," Guarnieri said. Further, she said, the bar saps police resources.
Attorneys representing Joenub Inc. could not be reached Thursday.
This is the second time in a year the city has sought to close the bar. The city padlocked the doors of Smokey Joe's last November when a judge issued a temporary restraining order. It was reopened less than a month later when the order expired.
The city was responding to merchants and neighbors who complained about underage sales, property damage, shootings and unruly crowds spilling into the street at closing time.
In recent months, violence has plagued the bar.
On Sept. 29, a 27-year-old city man died after being found with gunshot wounds to the head, chest and right shoulder on the sidewalk in front of the Uptown Theater, a few doors away from Smokey Joe's. Two girls also were shot.
On Aug. 7, a 19-year-old Boardman man was stabbed around 1:30 a.m. after he left the bar.
On July 20, two Youngstown brothers were shot, one critically, outside the bar.