On December 7th , the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission denied the troubled Hessville bar, Coach’s Corner, their request to permit a new owner to operate at their location on Kennedy Avenue. “This decision by the Commission is welcomed by my administration, the police department and the residents of the Hessville part of our city,” said Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr., who along with Councilwoman Janet Venecz (At Large) and Scott Rakos (6th) have for nearly two and a half years fought the renewal of the bar’s license locally and at the state level. “I hope the Commission finalizes this ruling and closes them down for good. Hammond takes an aggressive stance against bars that cause violence in our city, and this is the latest victory,” said the mayor.
The City of Hammond has been remonstrating against the renewal of Coach’s liquor license since 2019 after a homicide at their location in late 2018, and several incidents that occurred since that time. In January of 2020, the Lake County Local Board voted to deny the renewal of Coach’s permit, which the bar then appealed and was allowed to continue operations during the appeal.
The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission voted to uphold the local board’s recommendation shortly thereafter, which was followed by another appeal by Coach’s Corner. In November 2020, The Commission’s prosecutor and Coach’s entered into a settlement agreement wherein Coach’s admitted being a Public Nuisance and Failure to Possess High and Fine Moral Character and paid a fine of $2,000.
The City of Hammond, through its attorney Bart Herriman, submitted a formal letter to the Commission requesting that it act promptly to deny Coach’s renewal application, further investigate the crimes that have occurred at Coach’s business, and not allow Coach’s to continue operating during the appeal process. In September of this year, the Commission by a unanimous vote affirmed its previous decision to deny Coach’s renewal application and Coach’s once again appealed that decision. “This is a long and arduous process but staying on top of these issues and making sure the Commission understands the circumstances is important,” said Corporation Counsel Kevin Smith. “We understand that this process takes time. We respect that and thank the Commission for its attention to this case,” he said.
Coach’s Corner is currently operating on a permit extension until January, 17, 2022. The Commission has not determined whether it will grant additional extensions so Coach’s can operate during the appeal process. “Coach’s Corner has been a nuisance for years”, said Councilwoman Janet Venecz who spoke at the original remonstrance hearing in Crown Point in 2019. “Hammond Police have spent considerable man hours answering calls to Coach’s,” she said.
The Commission is expected to rule on Hammond’s Motion to Intervene and its Objection to Coach’s operating after its extension expires on January 17, 2022. If Hammond is allowed to intervene, the City will argue to the Commission that it should stand by its decision in denying Coach’s renewal application. “It is my sincere hope that we will end this once and for all when the extension expires for the sake of our residents and the neighborhood,” stated Mayor McDermott.