Barbee Landing Owner Feels Harassed By State ATC Officials

The Barbee Landing’s owner had to appear before the Kosciusko County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission Thursday because of a violation last year.

Owner Joel Stein will have to go before the board again next year for a pending violation that occurred this year, and he said he expected that to become a trend because of the harassment he’s received by the ATC.

On Thursday, the beer, wine and liquor restaurant permit for The Barbee Landing, 3687 N. Barbee Road, Warsaw, was up for renewal.

On last year’s violation, Stein said it was due to “the (food sales) reports last year, the problem basically was that I self-reported. I had a manager who took the business records so I didn’t know what the sales were. So I wrote on my application what I estimated the food sales were.”

He said he put the number down on the application with the word “estimate” next to it.

“So I was not trying to hide anything from anybody,” Stein said, adding that he’s never lied about anything and always has been upfront. He said he self-reported that he could not provide the food sales because he did not know what they were. He said he did not question the food sales were above $100,000 because “they always had been.”

Stein said that was discussed at the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission meeting last year, and he also described then what he had done to fix the problem.

He said that self-reporting led to a violation, and he went down to talk to ATC prosecutor Josh Harrison in December.

“The only issue that I really had, that we need to discuss, was the violation was against Channel Side LLC, not me personally. The problem I have is that I’m an attorney, and as I explained to Josh, no way in the world am I going to plead guilty to a level 6 felony, even though it was my business. I said as an attorney, I simply can not do that,” Stein said.

“He was fine with that, so we crafted some language that says there was no intent to deceive, that I used the best information that I had available. I don’t remember all that it said, but it was an agreed discussion with the prosecutor,” Stein said.

He paid the $750 fine and the violation went away. Stein said he was told his permit was renewed in Indianapolis for this year. The business’s gaming permit also was reinstated.

Excise officer April Tackett acknowledged that Stein couldn’t do anything about someone stealing his records, but asked if going forward he knew how to keep track of his food and alcohol sales so when he does his renewal paperwork in the future there won’t be any question.

Stein, who said he’s an absentee owner who lives in Wabash, now knows how his computer system works and his new manager is his son. “So, he ain’t stealing from me. So, I know when I ask him a question I’m going to get an honest answer,” he said.

Stein said his old manager wasn’t related to him and told him what she thought he wanted to hear.

“When my manager was driving a red Corvette, and I’m driving a 12-year-old Mini Cooper, I thought something is wrong here,” he said.

Stein also said he didn’t hire his son because he was his son, but because he was the right person for the job. “You look at our records, our business has almost doubled in the time that he’s run this business,” he said.

The board unanimously approved renewing The Barbee Landing’s permit. Then Stein wanted to talk about the new violation “because I’ve got a feeling since I came here last year and laid my cards on the table, I feel like I’ve been the victim of harassment by the ATC, not officer Tackett,” he said.

Tackett interrupted him and told Stein he could file a complaint with the state.

“And I’m going to, because I’m going to be down in Indianapolis on Aug. 6, but I just want to basically say I expect that I’ll be back here every year at the rate things are going because our floor plan for 10 years has been the entire business for family dining with minor exclusions,” Stein said. “We got written up for a minor violating on the property. I think the current officer doesn’t understand our business because when she came to meet with me after the last meeting, her first question to me was – it wasn’t a question, it was an accusation – why is your business so bad in January, February and March and then it seems to pick up in April, May, June or July and August? As we sat channel-side to the Barbee Lakes chain.”

Stein said he told the officer Barbee Landing doesn’t do much business in the winter.

Tackett told him, “You do realize that when you renew your license next year, this violation is the one we will discuss?”

Stein said he understood, but just wanted to give the board a heads-up.

“I expect this is going to be an ongoing problem from what I see, so I expect that I’ll be here on a regular basis. But, in the same way, I will be challenging this all the way to the full board,” Stein said, adding that he feels things have turned against him since laying all his cards on the table about the violation last year.

After Stein left, the board heard the renewal for the beer, wine and liquor restaurant permit for Hammer’s Pub & Grub, East Pickwick Road, Syracuse, which had a violation. It was continued from the July meeting because of the violation and because owner James Hampton was not present.

Hampton told the board his business never had a violation in its nine years, but the violation stemmed from him mixing up his permits’ expiration dates. The board approved the renewal after the explanation.

A hearing for E & S Express Inc., 2518 E. Center St., Warsaw, was continued for the third time to September. It is seeking the transfer of a beer and wine dealer license as a grocery store. However, the business has not properly posted its orange notice of hearing sign on its premises.

At the July meeting, secretary and president of the business MD Abdul Jafar said he couldn’t find the sign and therefore couldn’t post it. Tackett gave him the number to contact.

Jafar did not show up for the hearing Thursday.

Renewals approved Thursday included:

• CVS Pharmacy, South Huntington Street, Syracuse, beer, wine and liquor drug store permit.

• New Market, South Huntington Street, Syracuse, beer and wine dealer grocery store permit.

• Owen’s, West Market Street, Warsaw, beer and wine dealer grocery store permit.

• CVS Pharmacy, South Main Street, North Webster, beer, wine and liquor drug store permit.

• CVS Pharmacy, North Detroit Street, Warsaw, beer, wine and liquor drug store permit.

• Bar 13, North First Street, Pierceton, beer, wine and liquor restaurant permit.

• Board and Brush Warsaw, South Buffalo Street, Warsaw, wine retailer permit.

• Texas Roadhouse, West CR 300N, Warsaw, beer, wine and liquor restaurant permit.