List Of Accusations Is Long For Standale Bar In Danger Of Losing License

Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-25 18:59:21-04

What had become a popular hang-out for Grand Valley students in Standale is now in danger of losing its liquor license.

The City of Walker will be voting Monday to determine whether or not they will send the results of an investigation of ‘The Venue’ to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

The city has already determined it may recommend to the state that the establishment’s liquor license not be renewed.

City Manager Cathy VanderMeulen said, “I don’t recall that the city’s ever been through a process like this.”

VanderMeulen said because of the number of police calls, commissioners have been considering action against the bar.

The Venue owner, Ajay Chhabra, took over the bar in 2009.

From late November, 2009 to January, 22, 2013, Walker police told the city there were 57 complaints filed from the bar for various issues.

Director of Police Services Greg Long says, compared to similar businesses, it’s a three to one ratio.

The issues include some things already under review by the state liquor commission.

The state reports that The Venue’s license was suspended in 2010 and 2012 for failure to provide proof of financial responsibility.

In 2011, the state said the bar was accused of selling liquor to a minor and had unlawful gambling on the property.

In 2012, The Venue was accused of serving to minors multiple times and serving alcohol between 2:00 am and 7:00 am.

There were also accusations of nudity at the bar as well as a claim that someone with the last name of Chhabra had annoyed or molested a customer.

In August of 2012, there were more nudity accusations. During a liquor control commission hearing, a bartender testified that around eight women were topless at an event while they were body painted in plain view of the patrons.

Hearings are still taking place at the state level surrounding that incident.

“There`s a set of rules and the city expects those rules are followed by everybody,” said VanderMeulen.

We went to The Venue for comment, but Chhabra wasn’t available. He said by phone he personally never service alcohol to minors but a server was held responsible for doing so.

He said the accusation of someone molesting or annoying a customer involved a relative of his, but he wasn’t present at the time of the reported incident.

He said he didn’t want to comment further until the city made a decision.

As for the body painting incident, city documents reveal The Venue’s attorney defended the situation by saying the latex body paint is recognized as clothing, pointing to a flier for the product as proof and saying in part, “The packaging of the latex appliqué itself… indicated it constituted legal clothing.”

The city of Walker says ultimately, it will be up to the state to decide if the bar is allowed to renew its license.

“We`re simply providing what we feel is justification to object to the renewal and it’s up to the liquor control commission to make that decision,” said VanderMeulen.