By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — An alcoholic beverage permit renewal for The Barbee Landing in Warsaw has been denied by the Kosciusko County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission after family members of a deceased Indianapolis man opposed the renewal.
Joel Stein, owner of Channel Side LLC, doing business as The Barbee Landing, 3687 N. Barbee Road, Warsaw, was at the virtual meeting for the establishment’s permit renewal. Several family members and friends of Ty Sawyer Lee Brown, a 20-year old found dead a short distance from the bar in September 2019, attended the meeting to oppose the permit’s renewal. Most of the remonstrators were also at the board’s December 2020 meeting to object; however, the permit was continued to the board’s January meeting due to lack of quorum.
At about 5 a.m. On Sept. 2, 2019, Brown’s body was found along McKenna Road. Two hours prior to that, Brown was seen on video surveillance walking away from the Barbee Landing alone. Kosciusko County Coroner Tony Ciriello ruled that Brown’s death was accidental and that he died due to a subdural hematoma after apparently falling and striking his head. Toxicology reports indicated Brown had a blood alcohol level of 0.21.
Eight people who oppsed the renewal were at the meeting, including Brown’s mother and siblings.
During the meeting, Stein explained the citations The Barbee Landing received following the incident. The violations included allowing a minor to loiter and failure to maintain a high and fine reputation. Two additional violations stemming from the incident were dismissed in a resolution reached with the state ATC prosecutor.
Stein told the board that Brown presented a false West Virginia driver’s license stating he was of age; Brown was then allowed into the establishment and served alcohol.
Jennifer Beadles, Brown’s mother, said the state’s excise report on the incident shows Brown was never asked for identification while at The Barbee Landing.
“Throughout this excise report, you can see that Ty is definitely intoxicated,” said Beadles. “‘Brown’s head dropped so low onto the bar, he almost hits his head. Brown is seen swaying violently on the barstool and lays his head down onto the bar.’ He could barely stand up. I do not understand why there would be a question about giving this establishment a renewal. My son paid the ultimate price. He died. He was laying on the side of the road dead for almost two hours before someone found him alone. And this bar, what was their contribution? They served him. Their consequence? A $1,000 (fine) and five days (permit suspension). I don’t think that equates to justice at all.”
In reply to Beadles, Stein said the state’s ATC prosecutor dropped a violation for sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person due to no burden of proof on the charge. Stein said a Barbee Landing employee asked Brown for identification but that that could not be proven since video surveillance doesn’t cover the entire restaurant.
“Mr. Stein, I would have thought your first response would’ve been, ‘Ms. Beadles, I’m so sorry for your loss,'” said Beadles.
“I am very sorry for your loss, but that doesn’t mean I caused it,” said Stein.
Kelley Ross, another remonstrator against the permit, encouraged the board to thoroughly read through the excise report on the incident. She also noted that the picture on Brown’s identification card he provided does not look like Brown in any way.
“The description on the ID does not describe Ty,” said Ross. “Even if she (the employee) had looked at the ID, she did not look closely enough to even realize that it was not him. If it was so unusual for someone to come in with an ID from West Virginia, why wouldn’t you have taken a second or third look to make sure that it wasn’t a fake ID?”
Chris Cassell, a friend of Brown’s family, discussed the excise report and the amount of violations The Barbee Landing received in the Sept. 2, 2019, incident.
“When I was reading through this, I got to a point where I was like, ‘Oh my God, why won’t they stop serving this kid?'” said Cassell. “Many times, it describes how intoxicated he was and yet they kept serving him, regardless of being underage. Ty was acting irresponsibly but you look at this report and … the bartender, the manager, they enabled his irresponsibility. It’s unimaginable to me that an establishment like this could be allowed a permit to continue serving alcohol to anyone.”
Five e-mails from people opposing the permit were read aloud by State Excise Officer April Tackett, one of which being from Robert Beadles, Brown’s grandfather.
“I cannot understand why a license renewal would ever be considered under these circumstances for premises that served underage patrons alcohol to that level,” said Robert Beadles. “Mr. Stein and The Barbee Landing have betrayed the very core reasons for an alcohol license: to provide a safe environment for the legal consumption of alcohol, reduction in crime and protection of the young. Absent or present (at the business), Mr. Stein is responsible.”
Stein said the last time Brown received a beverage at The Barbee Landing was three hours before his body was found.
“The timeline is incorrect in the incident report,” said Stein. “There were a whole bunch of times where he could have gone and been somewhere else. We don’t know. I feel terrible about what happened to him, but this (Barbee Landing) wasn’t the only place he was.”
For renewals of existing permits, Tackett said there are three chapters of denial for existing renewal, including if the applicant is of good moral character, if the business has become a public nuisance and if any criminal offenses have occurred at the premises.
Board Member Alan Alderfer made a motion to deny the permit due to lack of good moral character from the applicant. Board President Elim Smith seconded the denial, with Dan Woods abstaining from the vote.
Following the denial, Stein asked Tackett about the permit moving to the state level. Tackett said the state commission’s next meeting is Jan. 19. Once Stein’s permit is brought to the state, they can either support the denial or overrule the local board’s motion. If the state commission votes to deny the renewal, Stein will have the ability to appeal.
The Barbee Landing can also continue serving alcohol until the issuance of a renewal is resolved.
In other business, a new alcoholic beverage permit for La Pasadita, 1303 N. Detroit St., Warsaw, was approved. A permit renewal for Warsaw Bowl, 1702 E. Market St., Warsaw, was also approved by the local board.
The local board’s next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4.