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Deville's Denied License to Launch New Bar in Port

Supporters of having Deville's Lounge replace Foxys Bar couldn't sway the Common Council, which on Tuesday denied the business its needed license, citing other downtown developments and the location's police history.

An uphill battle to launch Deville's Lounge in downtown Port Washington peaked on Tuesday night when the Common Council voted to deny the liquor license that was needed to open the business.

Troy Koput, who has been trying to launch Deville's Lounge in the former Foxys Bar space, appeared at City Hall for the Common Council's open hearing on the matter in hopes of surmounting the enormous opposition he's faced from city officials since he first proposed opening the bar in November.

Even after a roughly hour-long debate, the council moved to deny the liquor license on the the grounds of incompatibility with the downtown area redevelopment plans and the proximity of developing properties as well as the past history at the location and remaining building code violations.

Five alderman voted in favor of the denial, while Ald. Jim Vollmar was the single dissenting vote. Ald. Dan Becker was not present for the meeting.

"I think that, given the development that's going on downtown and the issues that were at this location before, I don't want to see the same thing happen over and over. When you said it's going to be different ... great — but you've got to show me something that is going to be different," Ald. Mike Ehrlich said, citing the lack of a business plan offering details on what Koput has said would be a "lounge" type bar.

Port Washington officials are referring to the development of the former Lueptow's building next door, as well as the former M&I buildings across the street. The Lueptow's renovations also include improvements to the alleyway between the two buildings, widening the space for pedestrians as well as adding lighting and landscaping.

  • Related: Police Calls to Foxy's Nearly Tripled Neighboring Schooner Pub

Ben Lanza, father of the former Foxys owner Andy Lanza, appeared at the meeting saying he was disgusted by the amount of badmouthing his business has taken since Andy Lanza left. (After closing Foxys, Andy Lanza moved to Las Vegas).

"My son used to own Foxys, he was running this business and was very proud of what he did … and now that he's gone he's being put in the mud — smashed," Ben Lanza said. "My son asked the city several times to help him make that alley better — and he was always denied."

Koput also faced the problem of building code violations found in the building, many of which were said to have existed while Foxys was in operation. A building inspection of the property earlier this month found 25 code violations, including:

  • missing electrical junction box covers;
  • extension cords being used incorrectly where permanent wiring should be;
  • inoperable cooking equipment;
  • a loose sink, crushed ductwork and missing drywall in the bathroom;
  • cracked windows.

Koput, who was leasing the space, said he had worked closely with the building owner to fix those issues; about five code violations remained, according to City Attorney Eric Eberhardt.

"I was trying to start a nice establishment down here, hopefully grow with the community," Koput said. "I thought I had a good idea, and we were trying to make it work — I guess it's hard to get off your feet when you can’t even get back on them right away."

Eberhardt said Koput can either re-apply for the liquor license, or challenge the decision in circuit court, essentially filing a lawsuit.

While Patch was unable to talk to Koput after the meeting, several of the people supporting him at City Hall did inquire about his options.

Patch will continue it's coverage of the former Foxys Bar location's fate, so sign up for the newsletter and don't miss anything.

Greg Huegerich December 19, 2012 at 05:17 AM
The lesson here: local elections do matter. The shifting behavior of the council members and inexplicably contradictory actions they've taken in the past 6 months should have folks looking for replacements in the next election cycle. I hope the lawsuit is successful. Damages and legal fees should be covered by irresponsible city leaders.
Rik Kluessendorf December 19, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Kudos to Jim Vollmar - something i'm sure he doesn't hear enough. Being the alderman that represents the majority of downtown, this is something that he should have a pretty good ear for, and his dissent should be applauded. It's disappointing that the other members of the council chose to take this road, and the precedent they've set here is concerning. Apparently, any future business requiring any license is going to have to deal with the shadow of whatever former business occupied the space. Also, future businesses will have to somehow meet the standards of a development plan (that I'm guessing isn't written down in any way, shape, or form). Perhaps that "downtown redevelopment plan" is something that we, as Patch readers, would be interested in seeing. I'm curious how specific it is and whether this scenario is even covered.
Robert B. December 19, 2012 at 02:00 PM
This is ridiculous. Foxy's had some problems so you punish somebody else trying to make a go of it in the same building? Another empty storefront downtown. Awesome.
CTCMom2009 December 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Agreed... I'd like to see what their ultimate plan is. Would it be to run all the existing bars out of business? I hope not, but I wonder what will happen when the existing bars that the council has "issues" with have to renew their liquor licenses.
Millhouse December 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM
This whole situation regarding Foxy's and Deville's Lounge had a witch hunt type vendetta from the get go and any person who dreams of opening a business and aspire to do so in Port will pay the price.
Greg Huegerich December 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I know there's been some hints about upscale stuff showing up at the converted coal dock when finished. Not exactly sure what the plan for downtown is though and how it all ties together. It is a bit odd that you've got an Alderman asking for a more complete business plan when they're not providing a clear vision of their own. The businesses they really want tend to be too upscale to be successful in this community. A jolt of reality is needed here.
jon dough December 19, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Why did we hear anything about the new spot owners having to battle with a business plan to get a license? That's right they didn't, it was just given to them. You know why? Buser owns that building. I clearly remember an incident involving the spot was brought up against Christian. So why wasn't the council concerned with the new spot owners serving after hours!?! Seems a little biased to me.
jon dough December 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Oh and I thought port didn't want another bar....
Christian Zaja December 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I got a ticket for being in a licensed establishment after hours. I am a licensed bartender and worked at the location. There was no after hours drinking (just to clear that up). Good for them for being allowed to open. The problem strictly seems to be members of the council. This business as well as any future potential port business could be hit with the excuses they denied Troy. Prior business reputation, building code violations etc. It is totally biased on their behalf to allow one and deny the next. They were just awarded their change of occupancy permit after they were already approved the liquor license. Which is standard, yet Troy was denied. Had the liquor license been approved as in any bar then the issues with building would then be corrected and change of occupancy would be approved. The whole system is flawed and bias. Several bars recently have received received liquor licenses and change of occupancy in very short time frames with no hassle. I do not understand the denial here. All their excuses are/were irrelevant to the license and as RIk said arbitrary. If you wanna change the system then do so. However, don't allow one and deny another in the same time frame. If you want to change these things let the public know. Let the building owners know! Let the new potential business owners know. Now at the cost of the council, another business denied and thousands of dollars were lost and we leave behind yet another empty building downtown.
Christian Zaja December 19, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I would like to thank everyone for all the kind comments here and related articles. I especially would like to thank Rik, Mr Lanza and Jim Vollmar. Again good luck to Andy and also the new bar in town. It is sad to see such a great potential business be blocked by every avenue, including slander, misquotes and straight out lies under oath. It's also sad to see the dreams and future's of so many new employees, their families and Troy's shut down for literally no reason. Here is a man who came into this community and spent thousands to improve a downtown business only to be blocked at every avenue. When asked how to file an appeal, the city attorney replies "you'll have to look into that yourself, I can't tell you how to start that process". When asked if the large amount of money that was put toward the license application could be refunded (since they in 4 months received these fees twice), the city administrator replied "I'm not sure, I'll have to look over the ordinances on that matter." Sorry to ramble on. It is all just one big sham and makes me ashamed of this town anymore. We were suppose to be the city on the road to progression. In the last several years all I see is a city that has done nothing but regress.
Terry December 19, 2012 at 08:26 PM
The spot is a great example of the hypocrisy of this whole process. I have no problem with the new owners there getting approval, but the previous owners there certainly had problems, to include after hours serving and rumors of drug use. The new owners there got waived right through without question. I really don't trust this process with Devilles. Either the right asses were not kissed, or the proper palms not greased.
Nick December 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
This is even more interesting after Port just issued another liquor license in the last week or 2 to another bar!! This would indicate "discrimination", plain and simple. They don't currently require a business plan for a liquor license, but demanded one last night for them to "consider" this licensee. Nor should the code violations stop someone from obtaining a liquor license, this should only effect occupancy licensing. Other people have said it before, including many elders in the community, "Port Washington's council has always been a good old boy's club", and they "don't want anyone they don't know or not local to succeed here", and these old timers cited how the council/city has run other businesses out, including Simplicity, which cost this City dearly, for foolish reasons. The building vacancies downtown are disgusting as is, and now a purpose built bar, cannot be a bar. I think the message is clear, and the Port Council members should lease a billboard stating: "Port Washington, we're closed for business!"
CatMM December 20, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Hmmmm. I just saw this on another page of this paper. Are they counting complaints to this new place too? House warming? Police responded to a call at 1:12 a.m. Dec. 9 about loud noise coming from The Port Hole, 201 W. Grand Ave. The caller said the music speakers were so loud the noise was shaking the complainant's home. The Port Hole recently opened, taking the former Spot's location.
Millhouse December 20, 2012 at 04:17 PM
That location has been a bar/tavern for as long as I can remember. It's blatantly obvious that our city leaders are in la-la Land. They have this mission to try to be Cedarburg, give up already and let Port be Port. I can'y believe 2 million dollars of our tax money is being used to restore fricken Lueptow's. We seriously need some new blood in Port's common council.
Millhouse December 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
The spot, Chucks engine room, how many other names has that location had in the 8 years Foxy's has been open. Port's urban dictionary definition needs an update.
Kathy December 20, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Doesn't fit with the downtown redevelopment plans? Oh Puh-leease. Completion Backwards Planning Syndrome is what I call it to rapidiously morph ubiquitous methods of empowerment to select figureheads. *sarcasm*

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