August 9, 2010

Committee rejects jazz and blues club on Washington Ave.

Update: We left an important piece of backstory to this story. Monday night was the second time Bourbon Street Blues and Jazz came before the committee. On July 26 the committee deferred action on the proposal after it was revealed that Joe Harris was applying for the license with Leslie Rogers, even though Rogers reached an agreement with the city in 1999 to never apply for a liquor license again. Rogers is the former owner of Leslie's Continental Club, which was the site of a murder in 1999.

During the meeting, it was clear Rogers would be a significant, if not lead, partner in the new Bourbon Street Blues and Jazz. That concerned the committee given Rogers' previous agreement with the city. Harris appeared along Monday night before the Public Safety and Licensing Committee and rewrote his plan to exclude Rogers, but Rogers initial inclusion factored into the committee's decision.

Original post: City officials voted down a New Orleans-themed jazz and blues club at the corner of Washington Avenue and Racine Street.

Joe Harris appeared before the Public Safety and Licensing Committee Monday night to apply for a liquor license for Bourbon Street Blues & Jazz at 1111 Washington Ave., the former Salt & Pepper Lounge.

The committee voted 3-1 against the "Class B" liquor license, citing concerns that the bar would be too close to the children's homeless shelter Safe Haven and to a child care center.

Alds. David Maack, Eric Marcus and Aron Wisneski voted against. Ald. Jim Kaplan voted in favor.

Harris' request for a license now goes to the full Common Council for a final vote. The council could overrule the committee.

Harris argued his business would replace an existing bar that co-existed peacefully with Safe Haven, the child care center and other surrounding businesses.

In addition to concerns about the location, Marcus pointed out inconsistencies on Harris' business plan submitted to the committee and some old battery and disorderly conduct charges against Harris.

Wisneski said he wasn't concerned about Harris' ability to run a bar, but said the location wasn't a good place for a bar.

Kaplan argued in favor of Harris' application. He said the jazz and blues theme was a good fit for the area.

The committee disagreed, and now Harris' only chance to open the business rests with the full council.

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