In an emotional and contentious vote, Wichita City Council members on Tuesday revoked liquor licenses from both Doobley’s bars — one at 767 N. West St., the other at 2415 W. 31st St. South.
Robert Crandell, who operates the bar under the Big C LLC entity, said the six-month revocation will likely kill his business.
“This will shut me down,” he said after the meeting. “There’s no way I’ll ever reopen.”
But his attorney, Jim Thompson, said he will file for a temporary injunction that would allow the bar to stay open until the revocation is appealed in District Court.
The 4-3 vote followed about two hours of testimony from police, city lawyers, Crandell and Thompson.
The city argued that Crandell lied to police about what he knew after someone stomped on the head of an intoxicated patron in the Doobley’s parking lot on West Street early June 1, 2010.
The victim had been drinking in Doobley’s, and Crandell said he called the man a cab when he realized he was intoxicated. When he found the victim outside the bar on the ground, Crandell said he thought the man had passed out and fallen down. He called 911.
Doctors told police the victim had a partial shoe print on his head, and police determined the victim had been beaten.
The suspected assailant was charged with attempted homicide and later pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.
Crandell pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice in District Court. But he said that was only because he couldn’t afford a legal battle and didn’t think it would lead to the revocation of his liquor license. He said he did not provide false statements to police.
Police said they found no evidence that Crandell called the victim a cab, and detectives said other witnesses said Crandell was aware that the victim had been brutalized.
Police also say Crandell helped a bar manager avoid detectives who wanted to question her about the beating. That bar manager later pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.
Stricter bar rules adopted in 2009 to cut down on bar violence give the council authority to revoke liquor licenses from owners who have been convicted of crimes involving dishonesty.
Crandell said he now plans to apply for food stamps to help feed his three children and try to get Social Security benefits he said he was told he’s entitled to after a brain tumor and stroke he suffered two years ago.
“I guess the government is helping me out,” he said. “But they also shut me down.”
Council members Michael O’Donnell, Pete Meitzner and James Clendenin opposed the revocation, although Meitzner said he would support fining Crandell up to $500.
“If he had something to hide, why would he be the one to call the police?” O’Donnell asked.
O’Donnell said the city’s policy on bar licensing and revocation is irrational because it allowed Crandell to renew his liquor license after police accused him of providing false statements.
A city lawyer said there are different standards for license denials and revocations. And she said that the city waits for criminal proceedings before starting the revocation process.
O’Donnell said it doesn’t make sense that you can obtain a license after being convicted.
Mayor Carl Brewer asked O’Donnell to stick to the issues at hand — not the city’s overall policy or public opinion.
O’Donnell later began a comment with, “At risk of being chastised by the mayor . . . ”
Brewer responded, saying he wasn’t chastising O’Donnell.