GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Police Department Vice Unit officers will attend a Liquor Control Commission hearing next month to try to keep the former Club Tequila closed.
Businessman Roosevelt Tillman is appealing the LCC’s refusal to transfer the liquor license from another Club Tequila location to 932 S. Division Ave., where the club was originally located until a couple of years ago.
The LCC’s refusal to give the club a license is a bigger block to reopening the controversial club than the city hurdles Tillman jumped last month. The Grand Rapids Planning Commission first rejected a plan to reopen Club Tequila but that decision was overturned by the Zoning Appeals Board.
Target 8 investigators used the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of a letter the Vice Unit wrote to the LCC earlier this year. It lists 120 crime reports since 2009, including assault, robbery and shots fired calls, at 932 S. Division and at the other Club Tequila location at 725 S. Division.
A neighbor who asked to be identified only as DeeDee said she’s worried about the possibility of Club Tequila reopening.
“I just don’t like it,” she said. “Nobody likes it.”
She remembers fear and sleepless nights when it was open.
“They run through my fence, they drove through the fence with their cars. They’re drunk. They’re shooting guns,” she recalled.
Tillman declined an on-camera interview, but told Target 8 on the phone the GRPD letter is the reason the state won’t transfer the license.
In the letter, the Vice Unit also questions Tillman’s partnership with a former Club Tequila promoter and bartender Arisbe Ramirez.
Tillman previously owned Club Tequila, but lost it when Bank of America foreclosed on the mortgage. Then, last November, Ramirez bought the place out of foreclosure. Tillman soon applied for the liquor license.
In the letter, GRPD Vice says Ramirez “is using Mr. Tillman” to get a liquor license after the state last year denied her efforts to get her own license to open a club.
According to Bank of America, Tillman owed $567,000 on the Club Tequila property when it foreclosed. Ramirez bought the property for a fraction of that — $150,000, city and county property documents show.
If he gets the liquor license, Tillman will be running the club debt-free because he is renting the building from Ramirez.
The letter from GRPD Vice argues that neither of them should get a liquor license. It says Tillman’s clubs were poorly run.
At least one neighbor hopes the state Liquor Control Commission keeps denying the liquor license.
“Don’t give it to them,” DeeDee said. “They need to open a store back there or something — something that’s more neighborhood-friendly.”
In a phone interview Monday, Tillman told Target 8 it’s not unusual for the Liquor Control Commission to first deny a license but then hand it over after an appeal. He hopes that’s what will happen after next month’s hearing.