Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
By Shelley Grieshop
Alcohol licenses denied
Lakeside business
  CELINA - The state has denied liquor licenses for a proposed restaurant and store on the north side of Grand Lake.
The application filed in May by owners of Smoke on the Water LLC on Harbor Point Drive was rejected by superintendent Bruce D. Stevenson of the Liquor Control Commission in a letter dated Nov. 7. His decision was based on protecting the safety of residents near the business site and previous legal problems with one of the owners.
The owners - Gary Kuess, Dan Flaute, Chad Schmitmeyer and Christopher Wendel - sought a license to sell beer, wine and mixed beverages on the premises until 2:30 a.m. and another to allow for carry-out sales. They have the option to appeal the liquor commissions' decision within 30 days.
Calls made this morning to the owners were not returned. Their attorney, David Raber of Columbus, said the group is considering appealing the decision.
Stevenson in his letter said the business location isn't appropriate for the quiet residential neighborhood. The restaurant/store is planned to go in the former Ohio Marine located on a lake channel.
"The place for which the permit is sought is so located with respect to the neighborhood that substantial interference with public decency, sobriety, peace or good order would result," Stevenson said.
Sylvester Everman, a retired resident who lives about 400 feet from the proposed site, this morning said Stevenson's decision is "best for all."
"It's best for all of us (neighbors) and them, too," he said, referring to the owners. "I didn't think it would fly."
Everman said neighbors feared increased traffic and alcohol-related problems if the licenses were issued. He and others spoke out at a public hearing with the liquor commission in late August. Many objected to alcohol sales so close to the nearby county 4-H camp, which houses children several weeks in the summer and family gatherings throughout the year.
Stevenson said his decision also was based on past problems local law enforcement and the liquor commission had with Wendel, who previously operated Club Oasis in downtown Celina. Wendel has shown "disregard for the laws, regulations or local ordinances of this state and will operate the proposed liquor permit business" in a similar manner, Stevenson wrote.
The letter, which was addressed to Kuess as president and CEO of Smoke on the Water, lists eight liquor license violations issued to Wendel between July 2004 and August 2009 for incidents at Club Oasis. He also stated there were 237 calls for police service and 90 arrests at the South Main Street bar in an 18-month period.
"The large volume of problems at Club Oasis monopolized police services for the city of Celina and there is fear that similar problems at the proposed premises will cause similar constraints on the Mercer County Sheriff's Office," Stevenson wrote.
Wendel's liquor license for Club Oasis was revoked in July 2011. His Smoke on the Water business partners have said his only involvement would be financial; he serves as treasurer.
Smoke on the Water has been proposed as a family-style restaurant with boat gas pumps and a convenience store.
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