The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has initiated an administrative proceeding seeking to "revoke or suspend" The Blind Pig's alcoholic beverage licenses for allegedly violating three statutes, according to an administrative complaint and order scheduling hearing the department filed against the Butchertown gastropub on March 1. The hearing is scheduled for May 16.
[UPDATE May 7, 12 p.m.: Just to clarify, the Blind Pig is still open and does still have its liquor license.]
The alleged violations, which occurred on or about Jan. 16, 2013, accuse The Blind Pig of
·making "material changes to the licensed premises without authorization by the state administrator"
·transferring "control and use of its supplemental bar license without prior authorization by the state administrator"
·transferring or disposing "of its interest in or control of the licensed premses or license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control without the prior approval of the state administrator"
On April 2, Meat, a speakeasy-esque bar located one story above The Blind Pig at 1076 E. Washington St., abruptly announced its temporary closure. A few days later, Meat's owner, Payton Ray, said a liquor license dispute with the Blind Pig was the reason:
Until very recently the Kentucky state legislature did not allow second floor bars. All individual bars had to be on the first floor of the building, except for if they were in a nightclub or a hotel or a restaurant. So us being upstairs, we were depending on the liquor license of the guys downstairs. So when that rule changed, that's when we applied for our own license. Unfortunately, our relations with the guys downstairs deteriorated so much and so quickly that they finally, the other day, just turned off the lights, locked the doors, turned off the water. Ray added,
Part of what happened was that the guys from the Blind Pig, in order to stop us from getting our license, alleged all sorts of things about us, like that there was underage drinking going on, sexual activity, rampant drug use and sales and so on. They weren't quite clever enough to realize that when they make a claim like that against us, it was against their own liquor license. So they launched an investigation into the Blind Pig's liquor license. Asked for comment back in April, the Blind Pig's owner Joseph Frase said, "There's a lot of falsehood in everything he said, every single statement that he made. That's all I can really comment on."
While the administrative complaint and order scheduling hearing, which Eater Louisville received via an open records request, does not mention the alleged infractions Ray cited, access to "investigative documents such as the case report" was denied as the investigation is pending.
The businesses' applications for liquor licenses, however, appear to confirm Ray's claim that Meat was using The Blind Pig's liquor licenses:
·On Nov. 15, 2009, When Pigs Fly LLC, doing business as The Blind Pig, submitted a "basic application for alcoholic beverage license" and a retail license (called a "Schedule 'R'"). It was approved on March 25, 2010.
·On Nov. 8, 2011, When Pigs Fly LLC submitted a second Schedule "R"—this time doing business as Meat—applying for a supplemental liquor bar license to add one additional bar.
The approval for this second Schedule "R" shows that an ABC supplemental bar license and an additional ABC liquor drink 12-4 a.m. license were granted. But the formed said it was for When Pigs Fly LLC doing business as The Blind Pig—not doing business as Meat. And the date of approval on the form was March 25, 2010, the same date that When Pigs Fly LLC's original application for The Blind Pig was approved.
A Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control staff assistant confirmed that Meat has a pending liquor license application, but that document is not accessible via an open-records request while it's still pending.
Download a .pdf of all documentation Eater Louisville received here, or view it all in .jpg form at the end of this article.
[Top photo: Courtesy Blind Pig]