New Bar Owners Blocked Again by Building Code Violations

The Common Council will have a final vote Dec. 18 meeting considering whether to approve the liquor license for Deville's Lounge, which is proposed to fill the Foxy's vacancy. But the police chief is not in favor of approval.

A building inspection of the former Foxy's location revealed a number of code violations that add more snags to the already challenging process facing new owners who hope to open a bar there.

The Port Washington Director of Building Inspection and Zoning Gary Peterson sent a letter to business owner Troy Koput explaining the 25 code violations he found in the building. The issues include:

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

The violations mean a Change of Occupancy permit is denied unless the business owners take the time to correct each issue.

Police chief recommends denial

Beyond those troubles, Port Washington City Administrator Mark Grams and Police Chief Kevin Hingiss both recommend that the city deny the retail alcohol beverage license needed by Koput, of West Bend, and manager Christian Zaja, of Port Washington to open Deville's Lounge. Zaja previously worked at Foxy's.

Hingiss cited incidents in Zaja's background — including an OWI offense in 2006 and an after-hours incident in April another bar, The Spot — as well as a long list of calls to Foxy's over its years of operation in his report recommending the denial of a liquor license. 

  • Related: New Start at Former Foxy’s Location Encounters Snags

Hingiss also said in general he thinks a more specific system for granting licenses needs to be set in place to better curb such problems at local bars.

"Looking to the future, I would like to see more restrictions on licensed premises," he said in his report.

Hingiss detailed suggestions he said would help the police mitigate or eliminate many issues/concerns associated with licensed premises, plus assist the PWPD in investigating and resolving law enforcement issues including "disorderly conduct/battery to public urination and underage drinking."

  • Related: Problems With Former Foxy's Location Revival Sparks Talk of Changes to System

The Common Council will have a final vote Dec. 18 considering whether to approve that license for the business; the issue will be discussed in closed session according to Wisconsin law, unless Koput requests an open session hearing before the meeting.

Even if the council decides to approve the liquor license, the code violations will need to be fixed so that an occupancy permit can be approved before a license is granted, Grams said.

Greg Huegerich December 07, 2012 at 03:06 PM
There are a lot of empty buildings in downtown Port, is there any wonder why? Maybe the police chief could try removing the Illegal Gambling machines from existing bars, restaurants, and gas stations, rather than attacking a new establishment just opening up? It seems like every bureaucrat possible goes through a No No No routine before someone can open a business. That's not a friendly impression for people considering opening a business in town. A vibrant downtown should include better nightlife than currently exists in the city.In fact, I think it would be great if there were enough people in the area to create demand for a place like Harrys to serve food late night.
Kathy December 07, 2012 at 04:01 PM
With all these infractions, how was it Foxy's operated for so long? Or is this another case of "someone" downtown not in favor of the new occupant? As a person who has lived in several areas in this state (and outside), and who has who has worked within community organizations I have never seen such a cluster muck of "small town politics" as exists in Port, a city that could have everything going for it. Ditto on Greg Huegerich's comment. I'll be a sour puss and add; bets on how long Duluth Trading stays here? The big joke? Once a person purchases those $70.00 ballroom jeans from Duluth, how much money is left to purchase from local mens clothes shop across the street? Bravo! Ya okay it's casual /dress menswear VS outdoor but same difference. It's like sticking an Applebee's downtown. Just my .02.
CTCMom2009 December 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Sounds to me like they are finding every excuse to not have this business open... add it to the long list of already empty storefronts. It's no wonder people go elsewhere on the weekends...
Marty December 07, 2012 at 04:54 PM
To shed some light- This is a learning experience for anyone. Including the city. Some "rules" within the liquor licensing may need to change. And the building codes, the building owner, will have to fix the issues. Christian has been let go is my belief. relieved of all his duties to the bar. It was unclear and never brought to the new owners attention DChristian's record. The city also needs to give the new owner some support. Do they want this opportunity for a new small business to fail? I have talked to Mr. Koput once or twice, it is his intention to open a small business to provide jobs to those who do not have one. Himself included. I see people in there almost everynight with the lights on and work being done. I am sure they are diligently working to correct the problems. I am excited to see the changes and the reaction of the people of Port Washington. I truely hope this brings a successful business to the area and not another empty store front.
Rik Kluessendorf December 07, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I think you're mostly right on, here, Kathy and Greg. But one thing I'd correct on Kathy's post - while Duluth may draw in dollars, it also draws in people. Those people, if they don't find what they are looking for, may find it easy to go across the street. An Applebee's (or BW3's, or Mine Shaft, or Water Street Brewery) brings people in that weren't here before. Those people, if faced with a bad wait at the restaurant of choice, may walk down the block to a place with shorter waiting times. Bringing new customers in is a good thing for all involved. As for downtown - take a walk and look at our storefronts. The following former store fronts sit empty (about one or two per block): Foxy's, M&I - two locations, Victor's, Dairy Queen (goes back a while), Piggly Wiggly (goes back a lot longer), Wind Rose, Doc's, Lueptow's, the Spot, the Hungry Lion, the Wilson House, the Brewmeister's Trading Post, and several of the storefronts next to Cousins. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I understand the chief going against this - in his position, any bar or other location that helps intoxicate people is objectionable and drains police resources. He wouldn't be doing his job to think otherwise. But as for the rest of the city...
Chauncey December 07, 2012 at 05:09 PM
All surrounding cities in the county are prosperous, continually growing, and busy with people DAILY. Port has failed miserably and they (elected officials) continue to falter and embarrass this town weekly! Disgusted.....
sms1022 December 07, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Okay, there are some issues. Now, let's look at the positives - Duluth Trading = new people coming into town = they will shop/eat at other businesses downtown. M&I Building = Port Historical Society = another place to visit. The revitalization of the Lueptow building = more business and job prospects. Brew Masters Trading Post = I'm not aware of what will be going in that location but, the owners are doing a beautiful renovation. With growth and change there us always fear and sometimes anger. I think it's important for Port to grow and change. I also think a bit of caution in that process can be nothing but a benefit for future growth. If that includes stricter guidelines for taverns - so be it. I belivebi read that other communities require tavern owners to submit business plans before a license is issued. To me , that should be a no brainer for any business owner or community. I'm all for cheering for the new guy wanting to do something new. But, seems to be a lot of red flags already. Proceed with caution.......
Amitiel December 07, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Amen, Chauncey. It is embarrassing to drive downtown and see the desolation and then read this. SMH. *Shake My Head* Port needs help. Does it just need the old administration to retire? Perhaps. Seriously. Let's think rejuvenation and whatever brings IN more people and revenue. A dance club does. All this red tape does what? Spends money arguing? You tell us. Why is Port downtown empty? And how do we continue to make it better? Is this moving in that direction or just someone's personal problem? Christian doesn't cause problems in the community. He made mistakes. Let's be realistic here. He serves alcohol and entertains and does a great job at it. He doesn't arrest or prosecute people.
Christian Zaja December 07, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Hi. I am Christian Zaja. I am 39 years old with two children, a wife and a home in this community. I have bartended for 8 years in this town, in several establishments. Since my name is being slung through the mud by everyone, I just wanted to share some things with you all. 1. I was never any type of manager or had anything to do with any decision making at the former Foxys. I was merely an employee. 2 I am not a "owner", partner or any such with Deville's. My name is not on any license application, lease or the LLC. 3. Yes I have an owi almost 7 years ago and my other ticket is for being in a licensed establishment after hours. I am a licensed bartender who happened to work at that establishment.. Hmmm? well anyways I paid my fine and it was a municipal ticket. Hardly a hardened criminal record 4 Due to all this finger pointing at me I am no longer associated with Deville's Lounge. 5 We did/do have a busness plan. 6 We went to Chief, building inspector and al parties concerned prior to the 1st meeting of the licensing. Building inspection has nothing to do with license approval only to do with building safety prior to opening and actually these issues are all the same issues that have been pending for several years and not addressed by the city. If Foxy's was such a "bad" place and building has not been in code for several years, then why was the licensed renewed on July 1st?
Christian Zaja December 07, 2012 at 07:10 PM
My intention was as Troy's still is to not only change the inside look and feel but to change the "reputation" of the prior establishments and were implenting several steps to do so... I could actually go on and on. The bottom line is none of the above information or actually any information posted in the paper (whether you choose to believe or not) have absolutely nothing to do with approving the liquor license. I wish all the best to Andy in Vegas. I also wish Troy all the best with his business venture. I would also like to thank Mr Mark Grams and Chief Hingiss for all the slander, misinformation, tainting of my familys' name and the cost of my job and feeding and taking care of my family. And grammar police fire away :) I'm a lil too upset to care at this point. And to concerned citizen....most of your bartenders/owners/managers oh and everyday people have an owi and a municipal ticket
sms1022 December 07, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Christian - thanks for telling your side. No one should get a bad rap for an OWI - We are all human - it can happen and does happen to good people every day. We are also often who we hang out with. Meaning - hang out with a heavy drinker means your a heavy drinker. That is not always fair or accurate. Best of luck to you in your future. And I truly think the city just wants the best for all involved. I'm born and raised here and these issues have always been around. I remember when another bar was referred to as "Stabdance" because someone may or may not have been stabbed there.
Chauncey December 07, 2012 at 08:34 PM
How convenient the two biggest mudslingers happen to be next door neighbors!! Gotta love 'irony' in that! :) Karma eventually finds a way and it certainly will here as well. Christian--I commend you for handling this more professionally and accurately than that of our elected city officials. They have truly dropped the ball--and to be quoted multiple times in local papers bashing (many) people's names and history is ethically wrong and out of line! Not so sure if these "intelligent" officials, including but not limited to our lovely Police Chief have ever heard of SLANDER???
Robby Hoffman December 07, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Anybody that knows me knows I'm not religious, but... "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone"
jon dough December 08, 2012 at 07:31 PM
You don't care what he does with his life? Yet you posted "how does this man still have a license?" You also understand that Facebook is a public forumn, and if you have "screenshots" I'm sure there are many of your page that could also be brought up.
jon dough December 08, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Also you do realize that me. Zaja isn't A part of these dealings anymore? You just have to read. So why are you brining up a man who has nothing to do with this anymore?
nosweat December 08, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Concerned citizen, you are the bully here, what about your record in the bars, or the fact of how many were you kicked out of, or fired from?? You are disgruntled because of your trouble making ways, and the fact that you would not be allowed in the new establishment! Iyou are just an innocent working girl for your family? How about that family you supposedly support, part time, the bars get the other dollars, and I never personally have tollook over my shoulder, no d.ui's never been fired, kicked out of a bar , no tickets for anything, that don't pertain to a bar, and am a full time mommy, not part time.I don't owe any past landlords money, so go ahead and keep bullying people, because this is about you getting turned down, once again, I can and will bring up more if need be, and people will vouch and come forward to all of this, and it's not slander if it's true concerned citizen!
jon dough December 09, 2012 at 07:55 AM
Exactly concerned citizen is just upset because she is EXACTLY the first change Devilles is going to make. The zero tolerance policy that is being put in place meant she was the first person discussed on not being allowed into the bar due to all the problems this person creates. If you're such an innocent hard working mom, why does your name come up so often as a problem causer in bars? Apparently you lie so much you're even believing it
John Burroughs December 11, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Going back to the man who is against video pokers. If you look at the tavern league booklet, it states that if you have a class b liquor license, you are allowed 5 of these games in your establishment. I think this establishment should be able to get a license and we will all be able to share in its success. These guys have been working very hard everynight as I have witnessed it when I drive by. Good Luck
Kathy December 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Kudos to Zaja for calling a spade a spade here! BRAVO! As silly as it may sound, I've often said that if I was offered a million bucks to open open a business but it had to be in Port, I'd decline. There is some savvy with influence to be found and even some good in Port, too often that good is trumped by others agendas. I've lived and worked in other parts of the state as well as the country and always involved with the community. I have never seen such "Hatfileds & McCoys" type mindsets between local businesses to business as well as city leadership that exists in this city! The winds of change are a blow'in, Port has so much to offer and could be a fabulous destination not only for tourists but for it's own people AND be more of a {welcoming} draw for LOCAL small businesses!
Terry December 11, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Noooo. John, that is not what it says. It says the state can't enforce it. It does say local municipalities can pass an ordinance, which I believe Port has. So why are our local cops not enforcing our local ordinance prohibiting them.
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 08:56 PM
The fate of Deville's Lounge will be discussed in a public session on Tuesday http://patch.com/A-0sL1


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