Waterloo lounge on Riehl Street could lose liquor license - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo lounge on Riehl Street could lose liquor license

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A Waterloo bar and grill could soon lose its liquor license after too many calls for service and concerns from neighbors.

On Monday night, the Waterloo City Council is set to consider a motion denying the license for New World Lounge Two on Riehl Street. 

An altercation outside New World in November resulted in a Waterloo police officer shooting and killing Derrick Ambrose, Jr., of Waterloo.

The DCI is still investigating that incident, but neighbors have complained about the number of places that sell alcohol in the area where New World Two is located. 

Mounting concerns from neighbors and a high number of police calls to New World Lounge Two are the very reasons Waterloo Safety Services director Dan Trelka says the business shouldn't be allowed to sell alcohol.

But the bar's management says they're not being given a fair shake.

New World Lounge Two management admits they routinely have to call police for help, but say it's not because of problems happening inside the business.

"It's a lot of young people that will come here during the weekends, at night, trying to get in that can't get in, so they'll be out in the parking lot, and that causes a lot of problems," said John Phillips, New World Lounge Two manager. "A lot of third-shift police officers know that. I've tried to do whatever I can to keep them away and get them out of the parking lot, but I have to call the police. That's what they told me to do; now it's being held against me."

Phillips only learned his police calls could jeopardize the business' liquor license through the media, "which was kind of disturbing to find out on the news, instead of getting a letter or somebody calling me and saying, 'Hey, can we have a meeting or talk about something?'" he said.

Phillips said if the City Council denies New World its liquor license, the business could be forced to close.

But the city insists there's ample reason the business is in hot water.

"There are many calls that have cropped up where people living in the neighborhood have called because of noise, fighting in the parking lot, calls like that," said Trelka. "And those are the ones I'm concerned about."

On top of that, a state audit uncovered conflicting information about whether New World has followed its license requirement of having more than half of sales from items other than alcohol.

"The state said we don't know what we've got here," Trelka said. "It's undetermined. But the state has very rigid requirements in how bars and restaurants need to keep their books, and this particular establishment isn't meeting those requirements. So the state determined there's likely a violation there."

New World still feels it's being unfairly targeted and is hopeful it can work out an agreement with the city to keep its liquor license and stay in business.

"We need to figure out what we can do as city council members to make it a safe neighborhood, and that's ultimately what we want to do for the Broadway/Riehl Street area," said councilman Steve Schmitt.

A compromise agreement isn't out of the question.

In the past, the city's reached agreements with liquor store businesses that included stiff penalties for any violations. People in those affected neighborhoods believe the city's crackdown on liquor establishments has improved the area -- even reducing crime.

The city says New World Lounge Two's liquor license actually expired in September, but it's been granted extensions from the state while an audit was conducted. The council is set to vote whether to deny a renewal of that license at its meeting Monday.

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