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Published: Tuesday, 4/10/2007

Panel urges closing of Vamps, 3 other Toledo clubs

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bill Morgan, right, manager of Vamps, offers a Vamps program to a councilman. Owner
Akrum Youssef, left, said,  Our problem is the outside, the people when they leave. Bill Morgan, right, manager of Vamps, offers a Vamps program to a councilman. Owner Akrum Youssef, left, said, Our problem is the outside, the people when they leave.
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A Five Points bar that has become a popular destination for young music lovers turns out to be too popular.

Toledo police said yesterday that Vamps, 910 Phillips Ave., was creating too much trouble for its location and asked Toledo City Council to help shut the bar down.

Council s law and criminal justice committee agreed and sent a recommendation to the full council that it urge the state Division of Liquor Control not to renew Vamps liquor permit on June 1.

Opened about two years ago in the former West Toledo Masonic Temple near Sylvania Avenue, Vamps has hosted local bands specializing in indie, ska, and blues in an upstairs theater, while providing a hip-hop bar downstairs.

The large crowds as many as 500 people in a night have contributed to disorderly conduct, parking problems, a riot, and a shooting, police said.

Area residents said the club s patrons take their parking spaces. Mancy s Steak House, 953 Phillips, has had to hire a towing company to keep its lot for its own customers.

Councilman Joe McNamara, who was elected to council last year on a platform of attracting creative young people to Toledo, said he couldn t overlook the uproar the bar has caused.

It s a very neat building. I ve been there. But obviously public safety is important, and when we re dealing with riots and dislodging well-established businesses like Mancy s, I want to protect the neighborhood, Mr. McNamara said.

He said the downstairs bar is the problem.

Vamps was one of four Toledo nightclubs recommended yesterday to not have their licenses renewed.

During the three-hour hearing, Toledo police vice/narcotics detectives cited the number of police calls for service and crime reports filed in connection with alleged problem bars.

The full council must vote on the recommendations, possibly next Tuesday. The recommendations would be forwarded to the state Division of Liquor Control, which could hold hearings.

Also recommended for nonrenewal were Paul s Switch Inn, 963 Oak St.; Marted s Cafe, 2853 Lagrange St., and Mirage, 950 Buckingham St.

The committee voted not to send to the full council a recommendation about the Oar House, 5044 Suder Ave., over a pattern of excessive noise complaints.

Council also heard complaints about the Lion s Den, 2814 Lagrange St., but forwarded the police nonrenewal request to the full council without a recommendation after a neighboring business owner, Al Sobb, defended the management of the club.

In the case of Vamps, officers gave dates on which police crews were sent there without having to be called, knowing there would be trouble.

They re draining the city s units from throughout the city, Detective Al Jones said.

Owner Akrum Youssef and manager Bill Morgan said they have raised the minimum age limit for males to 23 and taken other safety steps, reducing attendance and their income.

We re offering something new. It s something Toledo has never seen before, Mr. Morgan said. Our problem is the outside, the people when they leave, the way they act. We keep a tight rein on what goes on inside our establishment.

You need to keep a tighter rein, Councilman Ellen Grachek, the committee chairman, said.

In December, a Toledo man was shot in the leg inside Vamps. An Oregon man was charged with felonious assault in that incident.

Councilmen, while sympathetic, suggested the old Masonic Hall and Vamps clientele are not a good match.

You re trying to get a square peg in a round hole here, guys, Councilman Mark Sobczak said.

Mike and Gus Mancy, partners in Mancy s Restaurant, said the bar s patrons try to use their parking lot and cause disturbances that affect their clientele.

Bill has been responsive, yet these problems continue, Gus Mancy said. The business would work if they had the right amount of parking.

The Mancys said Vamps has only 25 parking spaces. Mr. Youssef said it has 49 spaces and contracts to use spaces at a nearby Burger King.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.comor 419-724-6058.



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