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Liquor license loss urged for 2 Toledo nightclubs

Remy’s, O’Fives amass violations

Liquor-license

Council member Tyrone Riley, left, listens as council member Steven Steel, center, responds to attorney Jeffrey Zilba, right, Tuesday afternoon during the Toledo City Council's meeting of the Public Safety, Law and Criminal Justice Committee at the council chambers in downtown Toledo.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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Two more Toledo nightclubs are at risk of losing their liquor licenses because of repeat violations.

City council’s public safety, law, and criminal justice committee unanimously recommended Tuesday that licenses held by Remy’s Gentlemen’s Club on Matzinger Road and O’Fives Bar & Grill on Starr Avenue be allowed to expire. The full council is expected to decide April 2 if it will urge the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to deny renewals.

Police cited a consistent pattern of violence at both establishments, including eight shootings since 2010 at Remy’s. A report said undercover officers were able to buy marijuana from Remy employees on two occasions. A search of the premises, authorized by signed warrant, revealed evidence of illegal sexual activity on couches in a back room, where police said dancers were known to take patrons.

Jeff Zilba, a Toledo attorney representing co-owner Johnny Gewarges at the hearing, said his client tried to maintain order with private security but that Remy’s became a gang hangout. It soon expects to have off-duty police officers, Mr. Gewarges said.

Councilman Steven Steel said Remy’s problems “can’t be blamed on who comes in, but on who works there.”

Councilman Tyrone Riley said Mr. Zilba was wrong to blame gangs.

Councilman Mike Craig agreed. “If your clientele is controlling what goes on in your business, you are not in control,” he said.

Mr. Gewarges said he had no comment beyond those provided to the council by his attorney, who argued that Remy’s deserves another chance.

O’Fives owner Rand Derby did not attend the hearing. He told The Blade later he closed his establishment in January and had no plans to reopen it, although he was hoping to transfer the liquor license elsewhere.

Police said it should expire because of numerous assaults, fights, incidents of public indecency, and violations of concealed-carry weapons laws.

“It’s not the location. It’s the proprietor,” Mr. Craig said.

Councilmen agreed police resources have been exhaustively used at both locations to break up multiple fights, some which included more than two dozen people. Documentation submitted to City Clerk Gerald Dendinger claims police found both establishments have operated with “complete disregard for the laws, substantial interference with the public decency, sobriety, and peace, and [that it] is a continuous problem.”

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.

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