CARBONDALE — Stix Bar in Carbondale has been ordered to close for two weeks in late June and fined more than $2,800 by the Carbondale City Council after January incidents in which underage people were inside and the bar was over capacity.
At Tuesday’s Carbondale Local Liquor Commission meeting, Stix was found guilty of two charges of permitting an underage person to enter the bar and remain within the premises. Additionally, it was also found guilty of over-occupancy on the nights of Jan. 27 and 28.
The bar was fined $750 for each offense and the cost of proceedings, which came in at $633.25, for a total of $2,833.25.
During an evidentiary hearing on April 11, Carbondale Police Officer Joseph Wild and Illinois State Police Trooper Trevor Mazur both testified that while working an underage detail on Jan. 20 on The Strip, the two entered Stix and noticed two women who appeared to be underage.
The officers approached the women and asked for identification. They admitted they were underage and were escorted out of the bar. Officer Wild testified that the teens were both 17 years old with pitchers of alcoholic mixed drinks. One of the juveniles said she gained entry to the bar with a fake ID and received a stamp from the bar staff.
The juvenile then admitted she “rolled” the fresh stamp on the hand of the other juvenile so she could gain entry to the bar.
Stix owner Greg Knoob said in testimony that every person who comes through the door of the bar is asked to show identification and then stamped with a visible stamp and then with an ultraviolet stamp for re-entry, which is only visible with a black light. He did not contradict the charges two juveniles were in the bar on the night in question.
Carbondale attorney Jamie Snyder said this is the third violation of this matter in recent memory. The bar was found guilty of having a 13-year-old inside the facility in October 2017. In February, the bar was found guilty of having a 17-year-old male in the bar. The punishment for that one was a 24-hour suspension, which was appealed and has not happened as of Wednesday.
“These three examples show that this establishment is not taking due care,” Snyder said before suggesting a 30-day suspension to the council.
Stix’s attorney, Alfred Sanders, said the city is putting too much of the burden on the bars and not on the individuals who are using false identification to enter the establishments. He said the town is shrinking and Stix is a bar that wants to remain within the city, and the 30-day suspension is going to send a negative message.
“To fine them and shut them down for something that they can’t stop, you might as well shut down every bar in this town. It happens every night in this town,” Sanders said.
The commissioners — the liquor commission is made up of the members of Carbondale City Council — ultimately decided on a two-week suspension, from June 18 to July 1. There was no word if the bar plans to appeal.
For the over-occupancy charge, Fire Capt. Jay Crippen testified he was performing bar checks at about 11 p.m. and noticed a line long of people outside the bar waiting to get in. He entered the bar and talked to Elizabeth Knoob, the manager, and was told the door counter read 275 people.
Crippen testified he returned to the bar at about 11:55 p.m., stood from an elevated position and used a clicker to count 319 people in the bar. At this point, Crippen allowed the bar to let people exit out of the rear door and only let five people in for five people that leave. He waited about 10 minutes and noticed the bar was complying.
Crippen testified he returned again about 1:30 a.m., and counted again with a handheld clicker to find 336 people in the bar.
Greg Knoob said there was an atmospheric haze in the bar, used for the DJ light show, which limits visibility to about 10 feet. He said he didn’t believe it was possible to stand in one location and accurately count the crowd in the whole bar. Knoob testified afterward that the crowd size was estimated to be between 280 and 290 people.
Sanders reiterated Knoob’s statement’s Tuesday at the council meeting.
At the meeting, councilman Navreet Kang told Sanders that it is not the city’s job to control the bar’s crowd size and it needs to figure a way to fix it.
Councilwoman Caroline Harvey echoed these sentiments, telling the attorney that his client has an issue that needs to be resolved.
“I don’t see that I have to tell you how to solve the problem,” she said. “I think it is up to you to figure out to solve the problem. Fix it fast and in a hurry.”