Some Cincinnati bars may lose liquor licenses because of high crime

Brownstone is worst offender, city says
Posted at 9:25 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 21:37:01-04

CINCINNATI — Underage drinking.


Chronic crime.

Community nuisances.

A half-dozen Cincinnati businesses are now fighting to keep their liquor licenses amid these accusations.

Among them, Brownstone, a Roselawn nightclub, is Public Enemy No. 1, a city official says.

"This is the one that we view as the most problematic," Assistant City Solicitor Mark Manning said before City Council.

The city says it is looking at taking civil nuisance action against Brownstone and challenging its liquor license.

Brownstone on Reading Road is billed as a coffee lounge and liquor bar. Police and city attorneys say it is operating as much more.

"They have persistently operated after 2:30," said Manning.

City data show 138 criminal charges filed for offenses at the property and 10 shots-fired calls, all in the last five years, plus drug use.:

“We were able to purchase marijuana from someone inside the establishment as well as any time we went in to conduct inspections, we had to open the doors to vent marijuana smoke," police said.

Police also connected West End murder in a January to after-hours serving there.

As for the rape in the club parking lot, police say the club wouldn't give them security video that could have shown a suspect.

"I want to understand what did that line of communication look like?" Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman said last week.

Brownstone's attorney, Chris Finney, says it was bad communication, and that video was purged on its regular schedule.

Finney says security is tight.

"There's three separate patdowns that everyone has to have before they come into the club. They have 12 security at the club on weekends," Finney said.

One owner says things are changing.

"I've made some changes, some cuts, some definite terminations. Especially after today there will definitely be more terminations," she said.

Brownstone is not the only city bar that could have its liquor license renewal challenged.

The Warsaw Food Mart is part of a undercover federal investigation that reportedly shows open drug sales.

In a recorded call, a suspect says: "It's better there because I'm good with the store man and everything. I watch the cameras and everything. I know everything. It's better there."

Andy’s Cafe in Carthage and Knowlton Tavern are also under the microscope. The city says both are hotbeds of crime.

City leaders say they need some more information before they recommend taking a liquor license objection to the state. That will come in a couple of weeks.