State OKs liquor license for Joba Chamberlain’s new bar

August 8, 2018

Former major league pitcher Joba Chamberlain hopes to open Chamberlain’s, his south Lincoln bar, in two weeks after state liquor regulators granted him a bar license Wednesday despite a pending DUI case.

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission gave Chamberlain’s the green-light but added the condition that the former Husker star not have any personal alcohol-related violations in the next year.

Chairman Bob Batt of Omaha reminded Chamberlain, who is the majority owner but will not run the day-to-day operations, that he is a public figure in his role as a business owner and sports celebrity.

“That’s why you have to be straight and narrow,” Batt said.

In May, less than a month after Chamberlain and his three business partners applied for a liquor license, a Lincoln police officer pulled Chamberlain over after seeing his pickup make an improper turn and cross the center line. His blood-alcohol content tested at 0.28 percent, according to a police spokeswoman.

He was arrested and charged with aggravated DUI with a prior conviction, and that case is pending in Lancaster County Court.

Chamberlain told the commission Wednesday that he made a mistake that night when he was out celebrating.

He completed nine months’ probation for a DUI in 2008, and Chamberlain told the commission he will learn from the pending case.

“As human beings you make mistakes that you fess up to, and you get to work and go from there,” Chamberlain told reporters after the hearing.

The Lincoln native is new to the bar business in Nebraska but consulted with bars in New York City, where he pitched for the New York Yankees from 2007 to 2013.

The commission took a closer look at his application following the DUI arrest in May and the failure of another partner to disclose some traffic violations and a refusal to comply with a police officer.

But Executive Director Hobert Rupe said at the hearing Wednesday that the other partner already had disclosed those violations for another license he holds and it was omitted in error.

Chamberlain’s bar will be a “higher-end casual” pub, aiming to make patrons feel like they’re surrounded by family and friends, he told the commission.

“A place to go and just enjoy yourself and feel like you’re in a buddy’s basement, having a great time and watching sports,” he said.

Chamberlain’s will offer light food — sandwiches and paninis — and focus on the happy hour and early evening crowd, bar manager Mike Figueroa said.

The bar will be in a strip mall at 27th Street and Pine Lake Road.

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