Downtown businesses react to closing of Club Rain

Downtown businesses react to closing of Club Rain

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A club in downtown Savannah known by Savannah-Chatham Metro Police for frequent calls and violent fights is now closed for good.

Thursday, the Savannah City Council voted unanimously to revoke the liquor license for Club Rain on Bay Street.

Over half a dozen Bay Street businesses that spoke to WTOC Friday all agree that revoking the liquor license was the right move. Now, they are just hoping whoever comes in next realizes the responsibility a business has being downtown.

"Each location is not its own entity, we are all part of a larger group. The reputation of the entity represents that of the larger group," said Brian Huskey, owner of the Gaslight Group. That group owns restaurants and bars like B. Matthews, 5 Spot. Abe's on Lincoln and Blowin' Smoke.

"The public safety failures regarding this particular management are predictable and they occurred for three straight years. I recommend that the license be revoked," said Police Chief Jack Lumpkin, SCMPD.

In addition to the chief, a sergeant with Metro Police testified that officers have now been called to the club 269 times, with the majority of those calls being for disorderly conduct. Police also referenced a shooting incident that occurred after a fight at the club in 2013, as well as two cases of gunfire inside the bar within the past two years.

"When you cram 100-200 people into a space it gets a little more difficult to control," said Andy Holmes, the owner of Churchill's Pub. "A liquor license is a privilege not a right. With it being a privilege comes it being a responsibility as far as training and a plan of action and then acting on that plan."

An attorney representing the club's management argued they shouldn't be held responsible for the violent actions of their patrons.

"These people are willing to make the changes necessary to ensure the safety of the citizens. They want to make those changes, and I will ask you to give them a chance and opportunity to do that," said Bobby Phillips, attorney representing Club Rain.

Holmes and other business owners say they are pleased with the decision and are glad to see action from council and not just talk.

"I think it is a good move by the council and I think they are showing an intent to clean up downtown. They are trying to eradicate some of the crime that has been going on down here," said Holmes. "They had a lot of police calls, there was a lot of stuff happening there that should not have been happening. As a result, I think they have done the right thing."

"With the council and the police department making decisions to identify problem areas and take care of them it is going to doing nothing but help," said Huskey.

Thursday's decision means the individual who held that liquor license cannot apply for another license at this location. Plus, this could make it more difficult for them to apply for a liquor license somewhere else in the future.

When WTOC called the club Thursday night to see if they would even be open, they said they are permanently shut down, effective immediately.
"I think the new location will go back up fairly quickly and I just hope that we get a responsible business in there," said Holmes.

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