Shotz Bar improved and closing it ‘would be counterproductive,’ prosecutor says
By Peter H. Milliken
The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office and Shotz Bar and Grille in Austintown have reached an agreement that allows the bar to remain open as long as it complies with all laws.
County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains filed a civil-nuisance lawsuit last March, which sought an injunction to close and padlock the bar, where he said underage alcohol violations and criminal activities occurred.
The agreement, signed Wednesday by Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, contains a one-year injunction against operating the bar, but it stays that injunction as long as the bar operates legally and does not present a public nuisance.
If the bar violates those conditions, the prosecution may ask the judge to lift the stay and close the bar for one year.
“They are stopped from violating any more liquor- control laws and fire laws,” said Kenneth J. Cardinal, an assistant county prosecutor.
Cardinal also said his office won’t try to revoke or oppose renewal of the bar’s liquor license as long as the bar conforms to the agreement.
“To close it down because of a handful of bad people would be counterproductive,” Cardinal said of Shotz. “We’ve monitored it over the period of months, and we’re satisfied that they have made the necessary changes,” he said of bar management.
As part of the settlement, the bar, at 3713 Oakwood Ave., agrees to pay Austintown trustees $2,500 to reimburse the township police and fire departments for costs of investigating allegations against the bar.
Between December 2011 and Feb. 25, 2012, state liquor agents issued 17 citations to multiple bar patrons for liquor-law violations on Shotz’ grounds, Gains’ complaint said.
Between May 2011 and March 10, 2012, Austintown police conducted 31 investigations on Shotz’ grounds related to sale of alcohol to minors, open alcohol containers, drug offenses, assaults, thefts, vandalism and hit-and-run crashes, the suit said.
During that same period, the township fire department responded to four injury calls and three overcrowding calls at Shotz, the suit said.
Bar owner Christopher B. McFall said the bar entered into the agreement “to get it [the complaint] behind us, to move on.”
“We changed the format. We were a little bit of a younger crowd, and we’ve changed it to a live band, classical rock type format. Probably the average age in there now is mid-30s, so it’s just conductive to less problems,” McFall said.
“It’s a good, clean fun place to go. ... It’s one of the few bars in Austintown that provide live entertainment” regularly, he said of his establishment. “It’s a positive contribution” to the community, he said of Shotz.
The complaint also said the bar opened a patio without the required building permit, but Cardinal said the bar has since obtained that permit.