Perkins doesn't want to close down Pump

PERKINS TWP. Don't expect drinks to run dry at The Pump Bar and Grille any time soon.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Don't expect drinks to run dry at The Pump Bar and Grille any time soon.

Township safety officials will tell an attorney from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control about overcrowding problems at the Hayes Avenue watering hole at a hearing next month. But township trustees do not plan to ask to have the bar shut down.

Local safety officials and a representative from the county prosecutor's office will attend the May 5 hearing to represent the township. Pump owner Rebecca J. Stock and her attorney will also be there. Both sides can call witnesses.

Fire officials emptied the bar March 1 after receiving a complaint of overcrowding, according to a report written by Gary R. Guendelsberger, the Perkins Township fire marshal.

Stock told fire officials there were 240 people in the bar at one time, a number that far exceeded the bar's maximum occupancy of 201, the report said. Patrons flocked to the bar to hear the popular musical group CocoBeanos.

Fire officials were also called to the bar Nov. 21 to investigate a report of overcrowding.

During the March 1 incident, fire officials noted the parking lot was almost impossible to navigate, and people were smoking in the bar, according to the report.

Since then Stock and her attorney created a written policy instructing bar management how to deal with large crowds. Perkins Township fire officials issued a written order to The Pump on March 11 to establish and maintain a written admittance policy, Guendelsberger said.

"We're working with an attorney who has written an admittance policy to use any time the venue may create an overcrowding situation," Guendelsberger said Wednesday.

"We feel comfortable if applied correctly we shouldn't have any problems with The Pump."

The main safety measure is to use one door for entrance so bar workers can keep count of how many people are in the bar at any time, Guendelsberger said. There are at least two other doors that are locked from the outside but can be used to exit once inside the bar.

"They are equipped with panic hardware," Guendelsberger said.

Township safety officials are worried if the bar were to be overcrowded and an emergency -- such as a fire -- were to occur, a tragedy could ensue.

"In exceeding (maximum occupancy) it creates potential for problems," Guendelsberger said.

Liquor control became involved after Stock requested a stock transfer for the business. The bar's former half-owner Robert J. Higley died, and Stock wants to buy his half of the business and take complete ownership of its liquor license. Township trustees informed liquor control they objected to the stock transfer, which triggered the May 5 hearing, said Matt Mullins, a spokesman for liquor control.

"I'm certain it will all be worked out," Dwelle said. "There is not going to be a situation where we don't want them to get their liquor license renewed. We want to get the overcrowding issue under control."

The attorney from liquor control will listen to evidence from both the township and Stock, Mullins said, and then make a recommendation on whether to approve the stock transfer. That recommendation then goes to liquor control's superintendent, who decides if he'll "sustain or overrule" the staff attorney's recommendation.

Even if liquor control denies the stock transfer, The Pump would remain open and could serve liquor because Stock would still be in control of one-half of the liquor license, Mullins said. Stock could also appeal the decision to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission and ultimately the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Stock maintains her bar poses no hazard to anyone looking to enjoy a night out.

"It's a very safe place. We have met all the fire codes, and I have no citations on my liquor license," Stock said.

Want to go

What: Ohio Division of Liquor Control hearing

When: 2:30 p.m. May 5

Where: Erie County Department of Job and Family Services, 221 Parish Street.

The hearing is open to the public.