Since only a permit renewal for Stimmelators Gentlemen’s Club was before the Alcoholic Beverage Board of Kosciusko County Thursday, the board had no choice but to approve it.
But when Jonathan Bransfield seeks a transfer of ownership of the beer, wine and liquor permit for the business at 114 E. Washington St., North Webster, the hearing for that might not be as easy.
Bransfield, who owns Cover Girls in Fort Wayne, is in the process of buying Nightshift of North Webster – the corporation that owns Stimmelators – from owner Dharmesh Patel. Patel bought it from Sam Stimmel in 2014-15. The club features topless dancers.
A letter dated Oct. 3 from the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission to Stimmel states that the business was classified as a “sexually oriented business” and falls under the criteria laid out in county zoning ordinances. It says it appears the business reopened.
The ordinance, in regard to nonconforming uses, states, “If any nonconforming use, conducted in a structure or otherwise, ceases, for whatever reason, for a period of six months, its use shall thereafter conform to the uses permitted in the district in which it is located.”
As Nightshift was operating before the section of the ordinance was adopted and effective Nov. 10, 1997, the letter states the use could continue to operate. However, the letter states that “as the business has been closed for at least six months, a business to reopen at this location will have to comply” with the zoning ordinance. The letter asks that documentation be provided that shows the business has not had any time lapse of business.
Excise office April Tackett said while that may be a county violation, it was not a violation for the Alcoholic Beverage Board when considering the permit renewal. And as of Thursday morning, nothing regarding a transfer of ownership had been filed.
“So what this is, and what we’re hearing today, is a renewal of the alcohol license. So last year we put a one-year only on this license so that is why someone had to appear even though there had not been a violation. It was just a one-year renewal,” she said.
Bransfield told the board he’s currently listed on the beverage permit as the manager, but he is purchasing it, though all the paperwork hasn’t gotten to the Alcohol Tobacco Commission yet.
The owner or the manager can represent the license for the renewal, Tackett explained.
Board President Elim Smith asked Bransfield how long Stimmelators was closed.
“We weren’t actually closed any lengthy period of time, and I have all the paperwork to (take) to the plan commission for that,” Bransfield said. “I don’t know what the definition of closed is. We were never closed. Yes, we weren’t open all the hours like seven days a week or three days a week or one day a week or whatever. But we were never closed for any period of time.”
He said he got a copy of the letter from the Plan Commission at the last Alcoholic Beverage Board meeting in October and has a “whole packet” of information for the Plan Commission. The packet contains signed affidavits, sales receipts and other documentation showing the company operated while the transition was taking place, Bransfield said.
Smith said North Webster’s police chief told him Stimmelators “really hasn’t been open for the last year. Private parties you have, but not open to the public.”
Bransfield said it was open to the public.
“Nope. We were open to the public. The doors were unlocked. The public was more than welcome to come in, we didn’t stop anybody,” Bransfield said.
Smith asked him if he had documentation on that, and Bransfield said he did.
When board member Alan Alderfer asked Bransfield who he represented, Bransfield said Nightshift of North Webster.
“That’s the corporation that I bought. That hasn’t changed. It’s been a corporation since 1987 and it’s had a beverage permit since then, I believe,” Bransfield said. “We’ve never had a lapse in business with the Secretary of State, Indiana sales taxes, with any local government agency of any sort.”
Smith said, “If it’s just for the renewal, we don’t have a choice.”
Board member Dan Woods made a motion to renew, and Alderfer seconded the motion. It was unanimously approved.
Woods told Bransfield, “You’ve inheriting a mess.”
Bransfield said he understood.
Smith said Patel said he was buying the building, too, and it was in the contract, but Patel never bought the building. He asked Bransfield if he were buying the building, and Bransfield said “as far as I know” and it was all in the paperwork that his attorney had.
“The whole thing is a mess, sir,” Smith said.
A permit transfer before the board Thursday was for a beer and wine retailer permit for Patino’s Mexican Grill, 918 N. Detroit St., Warsaw. The Mexican restaurant is in the former Stella’s location.
The manager, Nain Rios Miranda, said they used to have a restaurant in North Webster, but moved to Warsaw about a year ago. He said they didn’t have any alcohol permits for their North Webster location.
The transfer was unanimously approved.
Permit renewals approved, with no violations, included:
• Time Out Inn of Warsaw, 1701 W. Lake St., Warsaw, beer, wine and liquor license.
• The Keg, 111 W. Van Buren St., Leesburg, beer, wine and liquor license.