B.O.B.’s liquor license suspended for 10 days

The B.O.B. in Grand Rapids (Google photo courtesy; 2013).

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Liquor Control Commission Tuesday ruled that The B.O.B. bar’s liquor license will be suspended for 10 days.

In Lansing Tuesday, a three-person LCC panel heard the appeal of the original three-day suspension connected to the death of one of The B.O.B.’s customers. By the time the hearing was over, the panel had issued an even harsher penalty.

The new 10-day suspension is set to be from June 10 through June 19. It covers all the bars in the popular downtown Grand Rapids venue, which are under a single liquor license.

The B.O.B.’s attorney asked for a 30-day delay of the suspension to allow time to appeal again, which the LCC denied.

A spokesman for The B.O.B. told 24 Hour News 8 the venue plans to file for an injunction to stay the suspension, which would give it time to file an appeal. It’s not yet clear whether the injunction request would need to be filed in the Kent County or Ingham County circuit court.

Also during the Tuesday hearing, the LCC added $300 to the fine that accompanied the initial suspension, meaning The B.O.B. will now have to pay $900.

“I found it a very surprising decision,” Todd Dickinson, an attorney for The B.O.B., said.

Greg Gilmore, the owner of The B.O.B., declined to discuss the penalty.

The complaints against The B.O.B. stem from one of three falling deaths at the establishment in four years. An autopsy found that Kevin O’Brien was drunk in May 2013 when he fell four floors to his death after trying to ride a handrail down a stairwell.

Tuesday, The B.O.B.’s attorney argued the bar wasn’t responsible for the death because O’Brien had four drinks before he got to The B.O.B. on the night of his death.

“There was no way for The B.O.B., the licensee or its personnel to know what Kevin O’Brien had to drink before he arrived there,” Dickinson said.

O’Brien had four more drinks at the venue. He had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.25 — more than triple the legal limit — at the time of his death.

After an initial hearing in front of only one Liquor Control Commissioner, the bar was found in April to have been violation of two liquor regulations. The more serious of those was serving alcohol to a intoxicated customer.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office initially asked for a 10-day suspension. At the time, The B.O.B. — which boasts half a million customers each year — said that could cost it up to $200,000.

In setting the initial penalty, the LCC commissioner noted the bar’s six prior violations, including a similar charge, since The B.O.B. got its license in January 1997.

Gilmore defended his business during a February hearing, saying the bar has worked hard — and has spent a lot of money — to improve safety.

“We enclosed the stairwell so that nobody could ever make another decision to ride the rail and it’s totally enclosed. We spent $60,000 on that,” Gilmore said.

He went on to cite more changes.

“We stopped late-night party buses, quite often party buses would bring problems, people who have been out and about for too long,” Gilmore said. “We give last call at an earlier hour; we don’t let anybody in the building after one.”

The B.O.B. issued this statement on the decision Tuesday afternoon:

“We were very surprised by today’s decision by the MLCC, and intend to immediately seek to have that decision reviewed by an appeal to the circuit court and request a stay of our liquor license suspension. Meanwhile, we can assure the MLCC and our customers that we will continue to work diligently to ensure that the B.O.B. will continue to be in compliance with or exceed the standards set forth by the MLCC. Since its inception, the B.O.B. has served as a cornerstone to the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids and we look forward to continuing to serve our role as a vital member of the downtown Grand Rapids community.”

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