TABC, Dallas PD say problem with address caused shutdown at Eagle

Posted on 13 Jul 2009 at 3:42pm
By John Wright News Editor

Bar owners face fine, but should have no trouble getting license problem resolved, TABC spokeswoman says

The Dallas Eagle was shut down during its grand reopening on Friday night, July 10 because the owners of the gay leather bar hadn’t completed a change of address on their liquor license, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said Monday, July 13.

The owners of the Eagle issued a press release late Monday taking responsibility for the shutdown and saying it was a result of misinformation they received from an agent they hired to expedite the process of updating their liquor license. The owners also accused an unnamed competitor in the gay bar industry of tipping off authorities. To read the full press release, go here.

The Dallas Eagle recently moved across a parking lot from its old address at 2515 Inwood Road, #107, to its new location at 5740 Maple Ave.

"Basically they were in the process of applying for a change of address, and it had not made it through the process," TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said. "They were doing what they were supposed to be doing, but then they jumped the gun."

Beck said both TABC and the Dallas Police Department received anonymous tips last week informing them that the Eagle was "selling alcohol away from their licensed premises."

TABC agents and DPD officers responded separately but at about the same time to the anonymous tip on Friday night, according to Beck. She said TABC agents initially left the scene after it was decided that DPD would take the lead in the investigation. However, TABC agents later returned to assist DPD with seizing and disposing of alcohol.

"Our agents were not wearing ninja masks, and we did not make any arrests," Beck said, seeking to dispel rumors about TABC’s involvement. "Our agents did not make any arrests, and to our knowledge … there weren’t any underage drinking violations or undercover minors. The issue at that location was that they were selling alcohol without a permit for that location."

Beck added that it’s possible DPD officers wore masks or made arrests.

DPD spokesman Kevin Janse said Monday afternoon that TABC agents shut down the bar and that the police department was there only as a "support element." Janse said DPD doesn’t have the authority to shut down bars for liquor law violations.

Janse added that there may have been one arrest for public intoxication, but he said he was unsure whether it was made by DPD or TABC.

DPD vice unit officers sometimes wear masks to protect their identities, Janse said, but he was unsure whether they did so in this instance.

When told that some are comparing the Dallas Eagle incident to a widely publicized recent raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Janse said: "That’s kind of sad if they think, ‘Hey, we’re going to get free ride for a while because of what happened in Fort Worth.’ …

"We still have to follow up on complaints," he said. "We do it all the time. Our vice guys, that’s what they do."

Asked whether the change of address violation could have been dealt with in some other fashion, Beck said, "I can’t answer that question."

But she added that she thinks it’s "very unfortunate" that there’s a perception in the LGBT community that TABC is selectively targeting gay bars for enforcement operations.

Beck said she couldn’t comment directly on the Rainbow Lounge raid, because it’s still under investigation. However, she said incidents like the one at Dallas Eagle are common and generally don’t receive media coverage.

"We’re out there doing this same kind of thing at other locations, and people just aren’t talking about it and aren’t hearing about it," she said.

Beck also said she doubts the Dallas Eagle incident will result in any follow-up investigation by TABC.

"I don’t think we’ve seen anything that makes us think that that would be appropriate or necessary, and I don’t know that I’ve heard any allegations from anybody who was actually there that would make us believe that there’s anything to investigate," she said.

"But for the fact that they were both gay bars, I’m not sure there’s anything that these two incidents have in common, but tell me if I’m missing something."

Beck said TABC representatives have already discussed the situation with the owners of the Eagle. She said the owners would be fined for selling alcohol away from the licensed premises. But she added that the violation shouldn’t affect their ability to get a new license with a new address.

"We will be working with them to get that change of address completed as quickly as possible so that they will have a permit at that location and can operate there," Beck said.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

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