During its regular meeting on Monday, the Houston County Commission denied the request for a lounge retail liquor license by Ramu Enterprises, doing business as Horizon Bar and Grill.
“If this was an Applebees, would you deny it? Of course, you wouldn’t,” Dustin Fowler, attorney for Horizon owner Jack Ramu, told commissioners.
The decision comes after commissioners voiced their concerns about where the bar was going to be located during an administrative meeting last Thursday.
“That location has been a concern in the community,” Chairman Brandon Shoupe said on Thursday. “I’m very concerned with it being close to schools and churches. There have been a lot of deadly accidents at that intersection so I’m a little concerned about a bar being there.”
The business is located at 14634 U.S. Highway 84 in Wicksburg where Teasers, a former adult entertainment club, used to occupy the building.
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Teasers was closed in 2021 after the club had a history of violence and criminal activity. In 2012, three people were shot and killed outside of the club and in 2021, just months before closing, another shooting took place, and the bar shut down soon afterwards.
This is the second time the establishment tried to apply for a liquor license. In September 2022, Mike Kent, the former manager of Teasers, put in an application but it was denied because of the building’s troubled history.
Ramu Enterprises has no affiliation with Teasers.
“Mike Kent is not on the lease agreement,” Fowler, said last Thursday. “He is not affiliated with this business in any way.”
Fowler told commissioners during the administrative meeting that Ramu was looking to change the building’s reputation and give the people of Wicksburg something to enjoy.
“We’re trying to change the location and turn it into something the people of Wicksburg would be happy with, this is not another Teasers,” Fowler said.
While Ramu and his attorney believed Horizon could be an asset to the community, a local Wicksburg business owner thought otherwise.
Kenneth Hardy, owner of Hardy’s Family Restaurant, said because of the bar’s history, Wicksburg residents want it gone.
“This is the first time in 70 years that there hasn’t been a beer joint in the Wicksburg community,” Hardy said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in Wicksburg, our churches and schools are growing. Everyone is starting to get a positive attitude out there and I ask each and every one of you to take that into consideration. That bar has a bad history and has messed up a lot of lives.”
Fowler believes Hardy is the only one who spoke out against it because Horizon would rival his business.
“He is the only one that is crying out because he’s going to have competition,” Fowler said. “You have the right to vote against my client but you’re doing it to protect one business. You are allowing the Sunoco right across the street to sell alcohol, yet you won’t give my client a license because it is going to compete with Mr. Hardy.”
If the establishment were to operate as a restaurant without any alcohol, Hardy would have no problem with it.
“They’ve had plenty of opportunities to open,” Hardy said. “They’ve had the ‘Coming Soon’ sign in front of the building for so many months and I just don’t understand why they haven’t tried to open and run this business for fun and games. All they want to do is serve alcohol in front of our kids.”