YOUNGSTOWN Police padlock doors at Market Street bar
The state suspended Smokey Joe's liquor license.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A controversial Uptown district bar is smokin' no more.
City police officers put padlocks on the doors Monday at Smokey Joe's at 2722 Market St., which was ordered closed last week by a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court magistrate.
"We've had problems here continuously and it's never gone away," said Police Chief Richard Lewis outside Smokey Joe's. "The only solution is to close it."
A preliminary injunction order was filed last week by Magistrate Eugene J. Fehr of common pleas court calling for a closed notice to be placed at the entrance to the bar. In the decision, the magistrate wrote that the city proved with clear and convincing evidence that the bar is a nuisance subject to abatement.
To have hearing: A permanent injunction hearing will take place within 60 days, said city law director Robert E. Bush Jr. The city wants the bar to be closed for a year, he said.
Based on liquor law violations, the state Division of Liquor Control suspended Smokey Joe's liquor permit for 35 days. The suspension for bar owners Joseph M. Gabriel III of Boardman and Nabeel I. Kandah of Youngstown ends Dec. 12.
Police officers inventoried the contents of the bar -- including a few hundred bottles of liquor -- and then put the padlocks on the doors. The city could have sought to seize the bar's contents, but "we're not in the business of taking liquor," Bush said.
John B. Juhasz, the bar owners' attorney, observed the inventory count and closing of Smokey Joe's. He declined to comment to The Vindicator.
During the past year, the city has attempted to close the bar, which, until recently, had a large banner outside reading, "Still Smokin'."
Temporary closing: The bar was closed for about a month in November 2000 after the city received a temporary restraining order against Smokey Joe's from a judge. Since then, the city has attempted to get the bar closed again, only for a longer period of time.
City officials said they took action to shut down the bar after hearing complaints from nearby business owners and residents about underage sales, property damage, violence and crowds from the bar spilling into the street at closing time.