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Liquor license transfer denied

Owner of Rehab tavern said he would surrender liquor license if council granted it to Eau Claire bar owner

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    From left, Jed Hart, Leo Giannola, Police Chief Eric Atkinson, Beth Hart and Mayor Randy Knaack discuss some of the negative claims made about The Pickle in Eau Claire that the Harts own Friday after a Menomonie City Council meeting.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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MENOMONIE — The City Council voted unanimously Friday to deny transferring the liquor licence from the owner of Rehab tavern to the the license-holder of The Pickle and The Pioneer taverns in Eau Claire.

David Zempel, owner of Rehab, 631 Broadway St. S., said in a letter to the city that he would surrender his license if the city granted it to Beth Hart of Synergy on Water LLC. Hart is the agent for three licenses in Eau Claire: Pioneer Tavern, Pioneer Volleyball and The Pickle.

Zempel didn’t attend.

Loren Corp., which is owned by Zempel, applied to renew its Class B beer and liquor licenses, which would go into effect July 1. But the City Council decided to not renew Loren Corp.’s liquor license this month after 45 underage drinking and other citations were issued at Rehab in April.

Council President Mary Solberg said she was angry after reading the background check prepared by the Menomonie Police Department.

“I thought this was a done deal” she said.

She continued to say that it’s “unimaginable” that the council would allow transferring the liquor license.

Councilwoman Robin Sweeny echoed similar comments and added that transferring the license is nothing more than a “shell game.”

Hart told the council that she is “flabbergasted” by the background check and various other claims regarding her and The Pickle, 341 Water St., Eau Claire.

“This is not me,” she said.

Hart claimed that some of the complaints against her establishments such as fake identification to gain entry, underage drinking, theft and disorderly conduct occurring in either The Pickle or The Pioneer are inaccurate.

Hart’s father, Leo Giannola told the council that they are trying to bring a safe and fun place for young adults to drink in Menomonie.

“When you have youngins you’re going to have some foolishness,” he said.

After the hearing concluded, Giannola told Police Chief Eric Atkinson that they were poorly represented.

Atkinson stands by the background check.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said.

UW-Stout spokesman Doug Mell said prior to the vote that the council made an important statement when it chose to not renew Loren Corp.’s liquor license on June 11.

“Now is not the time to do anything to diminish the impact of that decision,” he said.

Contact: 715-830-5840, ben.rueter@ecpc.com, @BenRueter on Twitter


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