ELYRIA — The owners of the shuttered T&A Bar and Grill want a new liquor license in order to open a restaurant in the same location police and city officials once called the “worst liquor establishment in the entire city.”
The bar at 801 Foster Ave. closed more than a year ago after the Ohio Liquor Control Commission upheld a decision by the state Division of Liquor Control to deny the renewal of liquor permits issued to Carter Management Inc.
The same company is now requesting new permits.
Elyria officials said they will object.
“We are against it,” said Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino.
Costantino said Friday that the bar was not just a nuisance in the community, but also a drain on police resources as officers went to the bar several times a week, sometimes to respond to very violent situations.
“What I do know is the calls for service have dropped significantly since the bar closed,” he said.
For a restaurant or bar that wants to serve alcohol, state permits are necessary. Without them, owners Anthony and Angela Carter, the namesakes behind the T&A Bar, will not be able to legally serve alcohol.
Law Director Scott Serazin said he will recommend City Council request a state hearing.
When an application is made for a new or transferred liquor permit, the municipality where the business will locate is notified by the state and can request a public hearing where evidence and testimony is presented to help provide local context to the request.
“I think the neighbors would have something to say about this as they were afraid of what the weekends would bring when this bar was open,” he said.
Angela Carter said she did not want to comment when reached Friday. She said she planned to attend a Community Development Committee meeting Monday to speak directly to Council.
The history of the T&A Bar in Elyria goes back many years with the bar popping up on the city’s radar in 2010 for the wrong reasons. It was around the same time the city fought to close a number downtown Elyria bars, but T&A successfully worked to show they were not one of the problem bars.
Then, the city held a hearing to discuss T&A’s liquor license but stopped short of contacting the state when Angela Carter agreed to install lighting in the parking lot and cameras outside the building.
Things calmed down for a bit, but by early 2014 police began tracking every police call to the bar.
There were 98 calls for police service for the 30-month period beginning Jan. 5, 2014, with the murder of Antonio Spraggins, a regular patron who was killed near the bar, and ending in June 2016. The list included the murder, three robberies, 34 disturbances and numerous assaults, gunshots and noise complaints.
The bar’s parking lot also was referenced 51 times in the transcripts of a wide-scale operation to bring down drug dealers in the city. The 2016 investigation, dubbed “Operation Exodus,” targeted people Elyria police and prosecutors contend were involved in selling cocaine and heroin as a large-scale drug distribution network.