State pulls beer permit at often cited Hot Springs club

Posted: October 10, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

The state-issued permit of a Hot Springs bar and club cited multiple times in the past year was revoked Tuesday by the director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.

The beer-on-premises permit held by Boot Scooters Kountry Club at 421 Broadway in Hot Springs, was suspended Sept. 25 after repeated violations despite assurances from its operators that safety measures had been implemented.

"This is a situation where people are being harmed," said Mary Robin Casteel, the agency's director.

The club, which has a permit under the name of Deborah S. Hunter, can appeal to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Casteel said she could arrange a hearing to be held at the board's November meeting.

J. Cliff McKinney II, an attorney representing Boot Scooters, said he would have to confer with his client to determine whether the decision would be appealed.

"Despite assurances from its operators that safety measures have been implemented, patrons continue to suffer injuries at the hands of club staff and other patrons," Casteel said in a Sept. 25 letter to Hunter. "On a near weekly basis, law enforcement officers have witnessed patrons becoming intoxicated in the club to the point of illness and inability to stand or walk."

Since Aug. 26, the bar was cited six times by the alcohol regulator's Enforcement Division for violations that ranged from repeatedly selling alcohol to intoxicated patrons to an alleged attack on a female customer by security staff members.

The customer, Britney Foster, told Casteel that her arm was injured Aug. 26 when a club bouncer knocked her to the ground.

"I was just laying there with what felt like a thousand pounds on me," Foster said, adding that her shoulder was "hurting really bad" and is still difficult to move.

The club's assistant manager, Georgia Pritchard, said the incident "was a fall; just an accident" while an inebriated Foster was being escorted from the club.

The club was also cited Sept. 23 after a patron set off the walk-through metal detector and the club's security officer said he would just run a security wand over the patron "for the camera."

Also on Sept. 23, an employee consumed alcoholic beverages while on duty and another was witnessed "making out" with an intoxicated female patron, according to the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.

"They're obviously not paying enough attention to the patrons if they're making out with them," Casteel said.

McKinney said the club has instituted numerous measures to curb the problems, including more training for employees, buying new pourers for the alcohol bottles, hiring additional bartenders, raising the price of drinks and installing more cameras.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you there have not been plenty of problems," McKinney said.

Casteel said multiple promises had been made in the past by club management, but those promises weren't kept.

"I cannot let this club continue to operate," she said.

Metro on 10/10/2018