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.