The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 4, 2014

Zoo owner given a month to sell

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — The owner of a Sharon bar has been given a one-month reprieve from losing his restaurant liquor license so he can attempt to sell it.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board on Jan. 15 refused to renew the license for 361 N. Water St. Inc., doing business as the Zoo.

Zoo owner Patrick P. Signer, 46, appealed the decision to Mercer County Common Pleas Court, with the nonrenewal pending court action on the appeal.

The LCB asked that the appeal be dismissed and a hearing was set for Monday before Judge Robert G. Yeatts.

LCB attorney Michael J. Plank and bar attorneys J. Jarrett K. Whalen and Melissa M. Merchant-Calvert reached an agreement that allows the bar to operate for 30 days while Signer seeks a buyer for his license, or asks that the license be placed in safe keeping.

By the agreement, Signer acknowledges that he will be getting out of the bar business, Whalen said.

The LCB issued an opinion with a laundry list of reasons why the license should not be renewed, including Signer’s 2011 drug conviction in Butler County; citations for serving alcohol to minors and allowing music to be heard off-premises; two police responses to the bar, resulting in arrests for disorderly conduct and drug charges; and Signer’s late filing of the renewal request.

The board said Signer justified the late filing because of “No income, business slow, no money.”

According to Whalen, Signer could not overcome the clientele of the bar. He tried to by rehabilitating the building and installing security cameras and card scanners to check patron ages, but they haven’t headed off problems, Whalen said.

“The location is the problem,” Whalen said.

The LCB alleges the bar has “an abysmal history of liquor code violations” and Signer “runs an establishment that has been, and continues to be, a public nuisance.” The board also said Signer is not a “reputable person.”

Signer would like to move the license – he has looked at a location in Wheatland and elsewhere in Sharon – but the board will not approve a transfer, Whalen said.