State liquor board recommends deli by Vernon Park move after nuisance, drunkenness complaints
BY AARON MOSELLE
After years of neighborhood complaints, a takeout beer business in Germantown could be on its way out.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board recommended that the owners of Lee’s Steaks & Hoagies transfer their license to someone else at a new location.
“The community’s voice was definitely heard,” said Stacey Wright, chief of staff for state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, whose district includes the deli.
“I’m not saying the word victory. I would call it that we’re moving towards a positive direction.”
The decision follows a packed hearing in early October that saw residents and elected officials pan the business for being a bad neighbor.
For well over a decade, residents have complained about violence, public drunkenness, loitering and littering outside and near the deli, which sits along the commercial heart of the Germantown and abuts Vernon Park.
Over the past two years, Lee’s has violated its conditional licensing agreement. Specifically, the business has failed to pat down customers and, according to neighbors, patrol the outside of the business.
If the owners decide against transferring the liquor license, the PCLB will rule on whether or not to renew it at a later hearing.
If the PCLB rules against them, the owners can appeal to the Court of Common Pleas and beyond.
“She hasn’t made her mind up yet,” said John McCreesh, who represents co-owner Lisa Ky. “It’s a big decision.”
At the October hearing, Ky said she has security on site that does its best to move people along who aren’t paying customers, as well as those who routinely loiter outside the deli after buying beer.
“They’re just like a fly,” she said. “They come back.”
Ky also said she and her employees regularly patrol the outside of the business. They don’t pat down customers inside because they don’t let them and because there’s fear it could lead to a confrontation.
“I do my best,” said Ky.
Edder’s Den Closer
Shots fired, fights, and even two homicides. Those are the incidents that happened at a Johnstown Bar that has kept its name in the news the past several years. At one point, Edder’s Den was forced to close after a lawsuit filed by the District Attorney but security upgrades in 2013 allowed it to stay open. Now it may be closed for good. It is a bar that has kept its name in the headlines over the years but not for good reason. Shots were fired, weapons, fights, and assaults were just a few of the calls the Police have made on a routine basis. There were sixty eight calls from 2012 to 2013 to be specific and that is not all. The bar’s parking lot was the scene of two deadly shooting in the last of 2014. It is those incidents that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board cited when objecting to renewing Edder’s Den’s liquor license in 2013. Since then the bar’s owner and Attorney have been in a legal battle with the board. The county and most recently the state in March of 2013. District Attorney Kelly Callihan filed a civil suit against owner Edward Gawell calling the bar a nuisance that cause irrepairable damage to the city of Johnstown. Just days later the County’s President Judge ordered Sheriff’s Deputies to shut the bar down and padlock the doors. That same week though that both parties agreed on a list of changes instead including id scanners inside and surveillance cameras and spotlights outside. The bar agreed and made those changes and since then we have not heard of any significant problems stemming from the bar and as far as we knew the bar was operating as normal. But according to the PLCB the bar had been filing an appeal to stay open as the board continued to refuse its request for their liquor license renewal. Until this past December when the PLCB says that the State Court also refused to renew the bar’s license. It is said that Edder’s Den has been closed since December 21st. On Friday this bar closed sign was not the only change to the building. There was the permanent sign that once hung outside is no longer there and glanced through the windows shows much of the furnishing inside have been removed.