City alcohol board rejects Jimmy’s Music Club appeal

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Paula and the Pontiacs perform at a benefit to help reopen Jimmy’s Music Club on April 4, 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Just when New Orleans officials and the owners of Jimmy’s Music Club were beginning to find some common ground, the city’s independent alcohol board on Tuesday afternoon surprised both of them by rejecting Jimmy’s appeal, essentially offering the club two routes: City Council or the courts.

After club owner Jimmy Anselmo closed down the troubled Frat House at 8200 Willow Street last year, he sought to reopen the storied Jimmy’s Music Club in the location under a new liquor license. When his application was denied — because of a moratorium on new liquor licenses in the area — Anselmo decided to appeal his case to the city Alcohol Beverage Control board, arguing that the city couldn’t deny his license application because the moratorium itself was illegal.

The hearing on that argument has been postponed since February, and on Tuesday afternoon it appeared on the board’s agenda again. Before the meeting convened, however, Anselmo, his attorney and his business partners were summoned out of the council chambers by several city attorneys, and the meeting pressed on with other agenda items.

When Anselmo returned about an hour later, his attorney Michael Tifft asked the alcohol board to postpone the hearing another 30 days. Assistant City Attorney Dan McNamara joined in the request, describing the discussions with Jimmy’s as productive.

“For the first time in this case, all parties are communicating better than they have since its inception,” McNamara said.

Board member Jerry Speir, who represents the Carrollton area, objected. The Jimmy’s liquor license was rejected because of the alcohol moratorium, he said, and the normal process for that is to appeal to the City Council — as many businesses in the Carrollton area have done.

“What the sensitivity is that Jimmy’s should have some other process baffles me,” Speir said.

And if Jimmy’s objects to the City Council’s moratorium, Speir said, that’s an argument that should be made in civil court.

Tifft reiterated his argument that the alcohol board was the proper place for Jimmy’s appeal, and noted that the nightclub operators had had a “breakthrough” with the Carrollton Riverbend Neighborhood Association (which Speir is a member of). McNamara also acknowledged Speir’s concerns about hearing the issue in the proper legal venue, but said the additional 30 days would help the city and Jimmy’s come to some agreement about what that venue should be.

The board, however, was not persuaded by either the city’s or Jimmy’s protests, and all five members voted to deny the 30-day postponement and then deny the appeal itself. The dozen or so supporters of Jimmy’s left the council chamber without speaking, and Tifft said he had no comment on the hearing before leading Anselmo and his partners back into City Hall’s offices.

To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

15 thoughts on “City alcohol board rejects Jimmy’s Music Club appeal

  1. This is a serious let down for everyone in this area. They don’t really have a choice. They can never go the city council route, they will have to sue the city. Susan Guidry will never vote for new businesses and tax dollars in her area. She lost Coconut Beach to kenner and now she is losing a landmark in the uptown area. She should be embarrassed, and hopefully voters can see past her charade with COSTCO opening up a few weeks before her reelection campaign. There are reasons why certain areas of midcity, the garden district, and the warehouse district are blowing up while this area is failing. She had police officers being paid overtime to check for underage drinking, while robberies have become common place in the university area. Finally, she stated that all streetlights would be working in 90 days in the uptown area by may 25th. Will the work be complete or will this be just another story, like when she refused to answer any question about Jimmys at the last local neighborhood association. Please get this woman out of office, she is out of touch with reality and out of touch with uptown. And by the way she never took the Frat House liquor license.

    • First off, Coconut Beach is with City Park, not City Hall.

      Big difference in that City Park is a NON-PROFIT.

      Second, these “clubs” with alcohol don’t bring positive revenue to the city as the social services for alcohols, broken families, EBT, Section 8, etc. If these “clubs” did actually make money for the city, why does your city have the highest poverty rate in the nation?

      The crime in that area is also very high. Remember that volunteer Americorp member who was murdered this year? Or the other murders and car jackings in that area?

      Most club owners go BANKRUPT in 3 years anyway, like 85% failure rate. Ask yourself why did Jimmy’s originally close down in the first place?

      And ask yourself why do New Orleans Musicians have to leave Louisiana to make a decent living as New Orleans has plenty of clubs and festivals to play at and there is something to do every weekend, correct?

      • I’m afraid that your assertion that these”clubs” don’t bring positive revenue to the city is simply false. Not only do these businesses generate thousands of dollars in sales taxes, pay innumerable city taxes and licensing fees, but the owners pay state and federal taxes that feed back to the city. Further, their employees are individual tax payers as well as being subject to city licensing fees. You do realize that the city of New Orleans’ economy is largely a service and tourist based economy, and that a large section of that revenue is based in alcohol sales, right? This is New Orleans honey. If you don’t like living here, the north shore is a short drive.

        If anything, these “clubs” decrease crime in the area as they bring increased patron foot traffic and supervision by club personnel. No club owner I know passively tolerates crime near his/her club. It’s bad for business. The Americorp member was killed nowhere in the vicinity of the business in question, and not near any similar business I’m aware of. Trying to conscript that tragedy into your argument is a disgusting tactic worthy only of a cable news pundit.

        I have no idea where you may be getting your wrong headed information on club longevity. Please name a music club in this city that has closed in the last three years due to lack of business. The last one of note I’m aware of was TwiRopa that closed in ’05 due to complications following the storm. To my knowledge, Jimmy closed his business years ago because he was simply tired of the grind, and chose to lease his property instead. The bar business is profitable, but no one said it was easy. After removing his last lessee, he in perfectly within his rights to return to operating within his own property.
        In conclusion, you sound like another NIMBY uptowner who likes the idea of living in New Orleans, but doesn’t want any of those filthy little cultural things that make this town great to happen anywhere near them. If you simply have a problem with the consumption of alcohol, I’m afraid you may need to find cultural fulfillment elsewhere.

        • Yawn…
          If you say these clubs pay taxes and so on, why does New Orleans have the HIGHEST POVERTY RATE in America?

          Heck, Bourbon St can’t even pay to pick up its own garbage without screaming that they can’t afford it.

          Bars in and all around New Orleans failure is so high and so fast you just don’t know about it as it changes hands without changing the name. Just check your real estate agent as they wan to KEEP IT QUIET to get the best price they can get.

          Also, look what bars need to ADVERTISE. If bars were that good and profitable, they wouldn’t need to advertise all the time as they should have REPEAT CUSTOMERS..

          Bar Owners are the BIGGEST TALKERS..but pay their employees crap…How many bartenders and waitresses can afford a house? Far and few between. If that where true, why is the New Orleans Population been decreasing for 40 years and they need bumper stickers to let people know they are still proud of New Orleans? How many other cities need to a BUMPER STICKER to make them feel good about their city?

          When you talk, show some proof next time.

          • “When you talk, show some proof next time.”

            Wow, that is a heaping serving of hypocrisy right there, my friend. Solo asked YOU to prove your unfortunate statement about bars failing here 85% of the time and your response was;

            “Bars in and all around New Orleans failure is so high and so fast **you just don’t know about it** as it changes hands without changing the name. ”

            Solo asked you to name a music club that closed here in the last 3 years due to lack of business. Still waiting… If you stop spinning your wheels you might be able to think of one, but it’ll be a far cry from your “85% failure” statistic.

        • One other thing. NOLA has more bars per capita than any other city in America, Yet it can’t even pay to get the street lights, potholes, traffic lights fixed. Heck, it can’t even pay for police even without the consent decree, staff 911 properly, and has meter maids ticketing any any every car they can and they still don’t have any money.

          The city pf NO really needs to declare bankruptcy like Stockton, CA or Detroit as like 40% of city tax revenues(which is small to begin with) go to city employee pension funds….

      • Your entire argument is based on an obvious logical fallacy combined with some questionable (and unsourced) statistics. Your argument in a nutshell: New Orleans has a lot of bars. New Orleans has a lot of poverty. Thus, a lot of bars results in a lot of poverty. In your reality. You neglected to acknowledge that New Orleans also has a lot of churches. Using your kind of logic, one could make the argument that a lot of churches results in a lot of poverty.

    • uhhhhh…I live in the area and frankly I am glad to see that finally the over-abundance of ABOs in the area is finally being recognized as a problem to quality of life. Landmark? I disagree. St. Louis Cathedral is a landmark, not a bar. There are many great clubs I went to as an undergard that aren’t there anymore. Such is the changing nature of life.

  2. Doesn’t a commissioner deciding upon a applicant with which a special interest group, of which he is a member, has an agreement, represent a conflict of interest? And how does an unelected special interest group have any standing in which to insert itself into a hearing to the degree that an agreement with them is a determining factor? And doesn’t this model leave applicants open to potential extortion?

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