The Hidden Door bar faces closing its doors for 40 days or a fine of up to $12,000 for Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission violations.
Bill Loveless, an employee for almost nine years, filed a complaint with the TABC after a bar fight with another employee on Dec. 9 ended with a trip to the emergency room and him needing 12 staples in his head.
Loveless had argued with the employee, Mark Kirby, before and said Kirby caused trouble. But that night the two went beyond words and began fighting. Kirby took a glass beer mug and repeatedly beat Loveless over the head with it, according to a Dallas police report.
Kirby was later arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.
When the bar’s owner, Tony Bobrow, wouldn’t pay Loveless’ medical bills or report the incident to TABC, he hired an attorney and filed paperwork. He was then fired in February after the bar received the paperwork.
Bobrow did not return calls seeking comment.
The TABC started the investigation in March and concluded in mid-April that the bar was in violation for an aggravated breach and failure to report the incident.
Carolyn Beck, spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said an aggravated breach is an incident that involves a shooting, a stabbing or a fight that causes serous bodily injury and results from action on behalf of the bar, like a fight among employees, or inaction from the bar, such as not breaking up a fight before it becomes serious.
Bars have 24 hours to report a serious incident and five days to report more minor ones, such as a scuffle where patrons received black eyes, she said. Sometimes cases are dismissed where bars don’t report minor incidents because they forget or for other reasons, but Beck said the Hidden Door case is clearly a violation.
“In this case, it was their fault, and they also didn’t report it,” she said.
The case’s findings are still under review, and then the TABC will try to settle. She said the bar can request a hearing and it will then go before an administrative law judge. They can also waive the right to a hearing and settle with the TABC.
If the bar settles, it would face shutting down for a maximum 40 days or up to a $300 fine.
Aggravated breach carries an alcohol permit suspension of 25-35 days or a fine of $300 a day in place of the suspension for a first offense, Beck said. Another offense would result in the TABC canceling the bar’s permit. A regular breach carries a suspension of three to five days with a fine of $300 a day.
Failure to report carries a suspension of two to five days with a $300 a day fine.
Loveless hasn’t filed his lawsuit yet because his lawyer is waiting for the bar’s settlement with the TABC. He said he’s suing based on the owner’s treatment of him when the incident happened.
“It’s not about money. It’s about the principle. That he would let this happen to a longtime employee,” he said.