Jonesboro sports grill may have committed a foul with ABC board

Photo shows topless woman dancing on strip pole in front of live music

The Office Sports Grill does not have a permit for pole dancing or live music, ABC administrator says

JONESBORO, Ark. – A local sports bar with a private club permit may have violated the terms of their liquor license after a photo showing topless dancer in front of a live band on Saturday, Jan. 20, surfaced online. It may not be just one violation, either.

Photo blurred. To see the uncensored photo, click here. 

Keith Hendrix owns The Office Sports Grill. He confirmed the photo was taken on Saturday in his establishment during an interview with NEA Report on Tuesday. However, Hendrix claims the photo, which appears to capture a topless woman pole dancing, does not capture the full story.

“It was Saturday night in the club, here, we had a band here,” Hendrix said. “Somebody had a birthday party. They had a girl dancing for them and somebody snapped the back of her top and pulled it off.”

As Hendrix described the incident, the above photo was taken at the precise moment after someone pulled her top off but before both were removed from the club. He said as soon as it happened, the person who pulled her top off was removed. He said the woman dancing was also removed from the location.

Source: The Office Sports Grill Facebook page; Dated 2012

Hendrix said it was the birthday party which got out of hand but he then shifted to blaming the situation on his competitors.

“And now it’s just the competitors and people who are jealous and assume, “Hendrix began by saying. “We had a band. They were up there, singing and playing. We always have a band.”

However, this marks a new problem for Hendrix: his private club permit does not include for or allow live bands, dancers, or anything of the such. ABC Administration Director Mary Robin Casteel confirmed this to NEA Report on Tuesday.

“Unless it was noted and they called and specifically asked if that could be added to the permit,” it would not have been allowed for live music to be performed at the grill, Casteel said.

“Arkansas Law requires that a private club must exist for some reason other than the consumption of alcoholic beverages. On this sheet of paper, which is part of your verified application, you are to describe, in complete detail, what entertainment (live bands, dancers, food service, etc.), social functions, or other recreational events will be available at this club for the members.” – The precise text from one of the documents which was submitted with the private club permit application. See below.

Not only does the entertainment requirement give specific examples for live bands and dancers, but the next line on the paper says, “if you are in doubt about whether to list an item, you are urged to include it.”

There was no mention of live music or dancing on the application.

“There just appears to be a description of the charitable partnerships of the business,” said Casteel. “They don’t list any of the things we would normally classify as entertainment.”

We told Hendrix this immediately after his previous quote stating he “always” had a band performing.

“I didn’t know that,” Hendrix said, his voice sounding panicked. “I thought…We do have…Every place in Jonesboro…I’ve never been questioned about it or a fees. I just get the brunt of everything.”

Hendrix then went from saying his establishment, “always” had a band to saying it just recently began hosting live music.

“The band just started in the past two or three weeks,” Hendrix said.

An expansion request filed in June, 2012, allowed The Office to add a game room. Still, Casteel said permit-holders must specifically request any additions or changes to the existence of the permit or it is a violation.

“It does appear they might have added some provisions for televisions and maybe some Foosball and video games but I still don’t see anything for live music and especially not dancing,” Casteel said.

Courtesy ABC Administration

Any material change in the business operations proposed in the original application or in the manner the business has historically operated per above, without prior approval of the Director, shall be grounds for the revocation of any such permit. Section 1.34, ABC Rules and Regulations

Another violation could be from having the stripper pole. Hendrix said it was part of the establishment. He described it as something used by some dance classes which perform aerobic exercises on the cylindrical object.

“We have a pole over beside our bar,” Hendrix said. “We have had one for years.”

This could conflict with the strict rules under which the Office received their permit since nothing in the design shows any sort of pole for dancing. In addition to not being specifically approved, Casteel said requirements for having a permit and a strip pole can be very complicated.

“We do have very specific rules for establishments that have to be approved for that type of dancing, strip poles and that,” Casteel said. “This particular establishment does not have anything like that approved.”

Another issue exists if it is found the topless pole dancing was more than accidental/incidental. If the business was found to have allowed it to go on, they could be in trouble with the City of Jonesboro.

Assistant City Attorney Jessica Thomason said for a sexually oriented business to operate within the City of Jonesboro, one has to get a conditional use permit – which they have not applied for, as of 5 PM on Tuesday. In addition, the business could not be within 2000 feet of a school, church, and daycare.

Douglas MacArthur Junior High School and the Visual & Performing Arts Magnet School are both about 1,200 feet to the southwest of their location (the magnet school is not marked on the map below).

As for who was responsible for the behavior, Thomason said the business couldn’t blame the birthday partiers so easily.

“Under ABC rules, the establishment itself is responsible for the people who come in and out and making sure the follow the rules and regulations of ABC,” Thomason said.

Hendrix asserts his business did everything it could during the debacle to manage the situation. He did say he was not at the club on Saturday night when it happened.

“We did everything in our power to stop it,” Hendrix said. “It’s just one of those deals that, when it happens, you have to stop it immediately.”

It was a sentiment the ABC Administration Director agreed with.

“The proper protocol is for this to go to ABC Enforcement,” Casteel said. “They would conduct an investigation and if they found what they see as violations, they would report that to ABC for adjudication, fines, actions against the permit, and that’s when I would get involved. But obviously, based on what you’re telling me, I will be getting in touch with ABC Enforcement.”

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