Walker Bar Liquor License in Jeopardy

Posted at 10:34 PM, Mar 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-19 23:12:11-04

STANDALE, Mich. –  A popular bar and restaurant in the Walker area, could possibly lose its liquor license.

With reports of underage drinking and even topless dancing, the Walker City Commission is investigating The Venue, on Lake Michigan Drive.

Ajay Chhabra, owner of The Venue, says the topless dancing allegations stem from a one-time party last summer, when some girls were body-painted with latex; no one was actually topless.

After dozens of police calls to the restaurant and bar, the City of Walker is reviewing The Venue’s liquor license and will make a recommendation on whether or not it should be renewed to Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

Meanwhile, there seems to be two different stories about The Venue.  On one hand, it’s an established restaurant, the first in the area offering Indian cuisine, according the company website.  On the other hand, a quick search online reveals videos on YouTube and photos on Facebook of scantily clad girls dancing on the bar, and even bikini mud wrestling – none of which is illegal for the 18 and up crowd that comes to party on College Night.

While Chhabra admits there have been a few fights, he told FOX 17, “When you have a new business, you try new things” to bring in more people; and with the city’s only dance permit, a nightclub seemed like a good option.

However, since the new owner took over in 2009, underage drinking has been reported – at least one incident was reported by the owner himself, he says, when he found out two of his patrons were not really 21.

Walker City Commissioners have taken notice.

“We are going through a fact finding process that we’re at the tail end of,” explains Walker Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Deschaine.  “(The Commission is) going to take the information that we’ve collected and we’re going to review it on Monday.”

College Night and Hip-hop Night were shut down after last the bar’s issues were discussed at a public hearing with the city commission last week, according to Chhabra.

“(The Venue) is my livelihood,” he said, adding he is prepared to fully cooperate with the City of Walker.

The commissioners’ official recommendation regarding The Venue’s liquor license will be made to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission during a public meeting on Monday, March 25.