Committee recommends 15-day license suspension for Johnny’s Lounge

December 18, 2018

The administrative committee for the Beaver Dam Common Council on Monday recommended suspending the liquor license for Johnny’s Lounge for 15 days.

The full Common Council will vote on the committee’s recommendation in January. The decision came after a court-style hearing last week under the city’s demerit point ordinance following two alleged incidents at the bar, 519 Madison St.

Lisa Davidson, Kevin Burnett, Kara Nelson and Mary Morgan voted in favor. No one voted against. Kay Appenfeld, Ken Anderson and David Hansen abstained.

Police say a woman served her boyfriend as a bartender while the boyfriend was under a no-alcohol order in 2017. The woman pleaded no contest to the charge in court.

In a second widely publicized incident from last spring, police said nobody from the bar called police after one man punched another and caused injuries in a fight. The first man did receive a citation for battery from a Beaver Dam police officer, who said during the hearing that the man admitted to being in the fight, but he never faced criminal charges in court.

Burnett said the bar should be held accountable “because of the way this all went down and the lack of remorse or a way to settle this.” Amanda Hammen, the owner of Johnny’s, and her lawyer, Brent Eisberner, were not present on Monday. Nobody on the committee thought the bar should lose its license, but they believed the two incidents police alleged did occur and that the bar should face a consequence. Johnny’s received 380 points from the police department in two incidents, one in 2017 and one in June, more than the 200 necessary to trigger the license review process. The city’s efforts to settle with Johnny’s were not successful.

“It seems like there was a lack of willingness to come to an agreement,” Nelson said. “I think business owners need to held accountable.” She added that businesses need to meet the standards set by the state and the city and that she did not sense respect for the situation from Johnny’s, she said.

The 15-day choice was a consensus choice among the members who voted in favor to consider the impact their decision will have on the employees at the business.

“I think it’s important we do something to demonstrate these actions are not acceptable,” Davidson said.

The process is not over and a suspension, should it go through, would not be instant. Hammen will be able register an objection at the Jan. 7 Common Council meeting and could appeal the decision in court. Eisberner has signaled he is ready to challenge the legality and the constitutionality of the city’s demerit ordinance.

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