Last edited: October 26, 2003

Owner Says ‘Lifestyle’ Cost Club Its License

Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 2003
P. O. Box 867, Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Fax: 801-257-8950

By Glen Warchol, The Salt Lake Tribune,

The owner of a Salt Lake City gay bar says his alcohol license was revoked because police and state officials are offended by its patrons’ "lifestyle."

"The basic problem is that we’ve been targeted by the police department," said Club Blue owner Mike Webb. "They have been bothering us for a long time for a variety of reasons. Most of the people in the gay community think it’s an attack on our lifestyle."

But Earl Dorius, head of licensing and compliance for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said the violations at Club Blue, a private social club, were the most flagrant he has encountered in his 22 years of involvement with DABC, both as an administrator and earlier as chief counsel for the agency.

"It’s the worst I’ve seen," Dorius said. "A commissioner [Nicholas Hale] who’s been here for 11 years said it’s the worst he’s seen."

The alcohol license for the club at 60 E. 800 South was pulled for six counts of violating state liquor laws during a closed party in October.

The violations included a bartender serving alcohol while naked; club employees permitting people to expose, caress and fondle genitals and buttocks; and patrons and employees performing simulated or actual masturbation, oral sex and sodomy. Fines for the violations totaled $11,000, plus administrative costs.

In March, Club Blue’s license was suspended for 60 days following an "underwear night" party that the DABC said led to lewd behavior.

Webb said because the October violations came during a closed party, it should not have led to revocation of the club’s license.

"They are attacking me, saying I allowed or encouraged the behavior at the party, instead of citing the people who were breaking the law. They are putting me out of business," he said.

Dorius said that the club is permanently closed and the owners cannot apply for another liquor license for any club for at least three years.

Webb said his attorney was in the process of filing for a stay on the revocation. The club will appeal the revocation to the 3rd District Court, he said.

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