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Fate of Deville's Lounge Rests on Public Debate

A Foxys Bar employee who was to be the Deville's Lounge manager is no longer with the new business, a move the owner hopes will help sway city officials. The license will be debated during a public hearing on Tuesday.

Hopeful business owner Troy Koput, who has been trying to launch Deville's Lounge in the former Foxys Bar space, has requested a public meeting to discuss the approval of the retail alcohol beverage license needed to open the business.

Koput has faced an enormous amount of opposition from city officials since he first proposed opening the bar in November. At that time, former Foxys employee Christian Zaja was set to be the manager of the bar.

Zaja is no longer with the business in hopes that the negative publicity tied to his background — an OWI six years ago as well as an after hours violation cited in Port Police Chief Kevin Hingiss' report recommending denial of the license — will go away.

The issue was to be addressed in closed session by the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday, until Koput called City Administrator Mark Grams this week requesting an open session. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Port's City Hall.

But Grams said the fact that Zaja would be out of the picture doesn't change his mind, as he doesn't think the addition of another bar benefits the city.

"I guess in my mind it still doesn’t change anything. ... Those are all just regular bars — how many does a city of our size have to have?" Grams said, adding he would prefer a restaurant-type bar where the primary focus would be on food.

Koput is also facing challenges securing a change of occupancy permit because of building code violations. A building inspection 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;
  • and cracked windows, among other issues.

And while some argue that these problems have long existed at Foxys and it should not be a reason to hold up the process for Deville's, Grams said the process for reapproving the license for Foxys year-after-year makes it hard to bring such problems to the surface.

"It's a different process that you have to go through — whenever somebody changes ownership that’s when you get kind of a new kick at the cat," Grams said. "It's difficult to turn (a renewal) down."

If the Common Council decides to approve Deville's retail alcohol license on Tuesday, the building code violations will need to be fixed before the license will be issued.

Greg Huegerich December 13, 2012 at 09:43 PM
That's a pretty absurd position for the administrator to take, particularly with the Victors/Deanos/Horsefeathers location, the Hungry Lion and other attempted restaurant startups seeming to fail relatively quickly in spite of having some pretty solid food items (I liked all of those places) .... I don't think you're going to see folks eager to open a new restaurant in Port any time soon. It seems odd and unrealistic to expect someone to buy a bar location and retrofit it to be a restaurant when there would have been other locations suitable for that already. One more bar is perfectly fine for the city, and would be a welcome addition to a fairly awful nightlife in port. City officials need to be realistic about what businesses have a chance of being successful here, or risk more open spaces in the downtown. Unless, perhaps, you own one of the other bars and are lobbying heavily so government helps you out by blocking competition.
Greg December 13, 2012 at 10:37 PM
If "It's difficult to turn (a renewal) down." then the city should put some teeth into it's liquor license law. Or the city should make all D-T businesses "conditional uses" that would have to receive approval on a basis that is spelled out in the conditional use permit. Either way, these problems are on Grams not the potential new business owner. I hope the city is adjusting the tax rates for property owners that are sitting on vacant property due to not having tenants that fulfill Gram"s preferences.
sigmund kolatzki December 14, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I have to laugh when I remember back to when I was a laison for Chief Molson in his attempt to bring an "Indian" casino to Port. Rejected by the City because of some made up crime potential they envisioned. Also look back and laugh when I remember my and Ruth Lansing's attempt to have The Mustard Museum relocate to Port (along with tens of thousands of tourists they generated). They choose moving to the Madison area where they were heavily recruited and welcomed as opposed to ignored by Port officials. Port will always be a closed good old boys network community. Fear not young people - the City sponsered drunk fests will soon again be right around the corner. You know, that food oriented Fish Days and that marvelous Pirate Fest featuring lots of grog and wenches. Funny too, Harm Modder (though failed on financing) wished to build condos on The Lake - the City fought him tooth and nail and now tout the same type development by a known City brother. The more things change in Port - the more they remain the same.
Terry December 14, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Speaking of which Sigmund, did you clear up those arrest warrants yet? What were they for again? Oh, yes, drunk driving. Yea, your opinion on this matters.
sigmund kolatzki December 16, 2012 at 06:04 AM
While it is absolutely true I did not answer to an appearance for misdemeanor charge having accepted a position some 4000 miles away, I was not looking for a Pyrrhic victory. Of course had I been a Chief Rudolph, this citation could have been exchanged for one of littering. By the likes of your comment Terry, you should be charged with a first degree felony - severe lack of thought. Moral notions imply attributes to substances that exist in a relational duality - if you need help in understanding this, I fully understand.
Terry December 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM
LOL... Really Sigmund. You are going to try to hide behind some curtain of Intellectual elitism, by stealing a pithy quote from a comedy? Cinematic Hyperbole for comedic effect is the approach you are going to take? Fascinating. Also, I seriously doubt your flight was related to job opportunities. Generally speaking, when one is looking to better themselves, Mexico is not their first stop of choice (or were you lying when you posted about living there and being chummy with the local police chief). But back on point, I can only assume by your ill used quote, that you are implying that I am mistaken in applying the rationality of you argument with your background. I believe you are mistaken. There is more than enough precedent to the concept of considering the source. Similar to court (you know, that process that you have been dodging) it goes to credibility of the witness. We are debating responsibility. The fact that you have six open cases in civil and criminal court that you are dodging is relevant (public record, look it up - Wisconsin circuit court access). We are discussing alcohol issues. The fact that you are out of country dodging a second offense is relevant. Unfortunately in fact, as I agree with most of your points. Just disappointed by the source.
lena December 18, 2012 at 12:14 AM
How is someone's opinion invalid on this subject because of previous drunk driving? I'm sorry, I don't make the connection.
Kitten December 18, 2012 at 02:50 AM
After Foxy’s closed, the building awaited a new business owner. Several people were interested, but the owner of the building approved leasing the space to a motivated and creative young man named Troy. He had an interest in restarting the bar as Deville’s Lounge – a place for adults to come and relax in a modern and tasteful atmosphere. After all, the nightlife in our town has been lackluster lately, and there are so many of us that miss seeing a live band or going out dancing close to home. This building is the only one with a proper stereo system, room for a stage and a dance floor, and is one of a few with an authentic carved wooden bar from nearly a century ago. For this building to be anything else would be a waste of historic architecture and a blow to our town’s livelihood. Troy has a spectacular story, one of which I am shocked the media hasn’t pounced upon. (Then again, the coverage of Deville’s has been rather one-sided.) I believe he has the right to tell his own story, and I hope he does so at tomorrow’s open forum. He has fought against incredible hardships to be where he is today, and seeing his dream crumble before him at the hands of a city council that has not listened to his story is disheartening to say the least.
Kitten December 18, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Troy wasn’t alone in his venture, however. He has many other people working with him, putting in hundreds of hours in this new building to fix it, decorate it, and establish it as a legitimate business with everything necessary for it to prosper. These men and women have put everything into starting up a successful, safe, and fun new lounge in a town that they believe in, and have been met with nothing but closed minds and negative words. So here’s where it gets personal. When Foxy’s shut down a couple of months ago, the employees were given three days’ notice before it closed. My husband was among one of those employees. We had recently gotten married, moved into a new house, and acquired many other new bills that go along with living the American Dream. His job loss cost us over half of our income. Then my husband was slated to manage Deville’s. He is the one whose private information is being thrown around the media like it’s everyone’s business. This means that my last name has been in quite a few newspaper articles recently, too - and not in a favorable light. It does not please me to think that any of my students or their families who look up my name online will come across such negative press.
Kitten December 18, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I have grown up in this town and am disappointed to hear that the city is so adamant against allowing a new business with a promising future. The way that the media has published this story has led many of us to feel as though the council does not have the best interests of the common community member in mind. Perhaps the articles’ representations of what the city has said has been as skewed as their representation of my friends and family. The truth will come out tomorrow at the forum. Please help us fight for an honest business that will be an asset to the community. People of Port Washington, please help us fight for progress.
Terry December 18, 2012 at 06:05 AM
It's up to you as the reader to decide Lena, if its relevant. Is a proven inability to handle alcohol responsibly relevant to a discussion about a bar with alleged problems? Each of us must judge that by our own standards.

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