WATCH NOW: City Council votes to revoke Coins Sports Bar liquor licenses | Government and politics
The Kenosha City Council voted overwhelmingly to revoke Coins Sports Bar’s liquor licenses in a late night meeting.
The vote came after weeks of uncertainty for the tavern and more than 11 hours of debate by the city’s license and permit committee. The full city council met behind closed doors for more than an hour before voting on the issue around 10 p.m. Monday.
The popular sports bar at 1714 52nd St. will no longer be able to serve alcoholic beverages. On Monday, before the final vote, the tavern owners voluntarily gave up their cabaret license to show council members they were determined to weed out bad actors who might attend rowdy concerts or shows.
Aldus. Daniel Prozanski withdrew from the vote. Aldus. Anthony Kennedy, the lone dissenting vote on the Licensing and Permits Committee, voted against permanent removal.
Aldus. Shayna Griffin, who represents the areas surrounding the bar, pleaded with her colleagues to revoke their licenses.
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“As I sit here and we discuss what’s going on, I just have to speak because I’m a representative of this neighborhood, this neighborhood that surrounds Coins,” Griffin said. “We’ve heard a lot of testimonies, but what we haven’t heard are calls from residents of the surrounding neighborhood who are unhappy with their living situation. Who are not happy that there are more than 10 police and police cars in their neighborhood on a regular basis. They don’t feel good, they don’t feel safe.
Aldus. Rocco LaMacchia, chair of the public safety and welfare committee meeting, said “it’s a tough call.”
“I’m torn by all the things I’ve heard that I didn’t know,” he said. “I agree that something has to be done, there’s no doubt about it. My only complaint is that we have four or five other bars that are in the same situation and still have their license. We’ll deal with that another day.
However, Coins attorney Anthony Nudo maintained that the city has never contacted or attempted to contact Coins’ agent regarding any alleged issues in the past six months.
No demerit points
The bar did not have demerit points assessed against licenses before revocation hearings began.
“The whole process from day one was absolutely wrong,” Nudo said after the vote. “There is huge support for Coins because they are good community partners. The incidents that happened should have been discussed with them months ago.
“It’s like being arrested for a probation violation when you didn’t even know you were on probation,” he said. “You have to have notice and give a warning. The process was wrong from the start.
Nudo said it will discuss the appeals process with its customers.
The police recommended the dismissal
The Kenosha Police Department had recommended that the bar’s licenses be revoked or suspended after months of what the department reported as “recurring disorderly occurrences” that “require a substantial commitment of Kenosha Police Department resources.”
The department had filed a seven-page complaint with the committee that listed serious incidents that had occurred inside or outside the facility over the past six months.
Most of them involve unruly patrons who did not disperse during closing hours, outdoor drinking and physical altercations, according to the complaint.
A Kenosha police officer was reportedly struck by a vehicle in the early morning hours of July 4, 2021 and suffered serious shoulder injuries. Some of the officers who testified on February 14 said they feared for their safety when the crowd became disorderly on several occasions in Coins parking lots.
New Year’s Eve Homicide
The most recent incident, which happened around 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day, ended in a fatal shooting. During this incident, a man was killed in the parking lot of the tavern. Three others were injured, one seriously.
Police arrived that morning to find vehicles fleeing the scene and people fleeing the parking lot. The complaint says 33 officers from the Kenosha Police Department and five other outside agencies responded to take control of the situation.
In a formal complaint, Acting Police Chief Eric Larsen backed the revocations saying “the recurring disorderly occurrences on the premises require a substantial commitment of Kenosha Police Department resources and that mobs and beatings associated fires present a continuing threat of imminent danger to officers’ security responding to the premises, as well as to commercial customers and those residing in the surrounding neighborhood.
Coins management, however, maintains that none of those involved in the incident were in fact patrons of the bar that night.
The bar is co-owned by Matthew Carlson and Jerry Cousin, who have owned the bar for less than two years. It was sold to them by members of the Gascoigne family. Carlson and Cousin also own Duke’s Country Saloon, 2324 18th St., on the north side of town.
At a licensing and permit committee meeting last month, Cousin said the bar was struggling to keep pace with a “300% increase” in business and pledged to work with the police to protect customers, staff and the community.
He said the bar hires private security and has cameras throughout the establishment. Cousin also said they began meeting with police.
“The reason we’re here today is because of what happened on Jan. 1,” Cousin told city council Monday ahead of the vote.
“This loss of life and this event was tragic. But this event is not limited to the types of events that occur at Coins. It’s a problem in our city, it’s a problem in our state, it’s a problem in our country. In our city, murders have increased by 300%. We didn’t ask these criminals to show themselves. They weren’t patrons of our bar. They were not served an ounce of alcohol, a glass of water or even a chip.
Cousin said employees could lose their jobs and local nonprofits will have no place to raise vital funds.
The fans show up
In public comments ahead of the vote, supporters pleaded with aldermen to allow rooms to remain open. Many highlighted benefits that Coins has hosted over the years for area nonprofits and people in need.
“This place has really done a lot of good,” said Patti Prostko. “Like they said, it’s not their fault (about) what happened. Nobody should judge them on that. Hopefully when you make a decision tonight (you ) will keep coins. We really need them.
Reed Griffiths said he believed Coins was being treated unfairly and the community would lose a vital resource.
“I have attended many charity events hosted by Coins for causes I strongly believe in,” he said.
Griffiths said a decision to revoke their liquor licenses in this way would have a chilling effect on local entrepreneurs.
“If you close this bar, you’re not going to create a lot of success,” he added.
“The violence that has happened or the bad guys that have come to this bar are going to find another bar like they have for years and years and years. I don’t think this is a punishment that should be imposed on any person or company. Personally, as the next generation of this city, as a young entrepreneur and businessman, myself who believes in the importance of making Kenosha a better place and making it a place on the map where people want to come, you change my mindset.