Club Forced to Shut Down for 20 Days for Illegal Tattooing

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City's Liquor Control Board decided Wednesday to close Rumors Night Club, also called Lush, for 20 consecutive business days.

The penalty came after officials found a man tattooing the club's patrons earlier this month.

The board found Lush in violation of two codes. The first is giving tattoos in a facility not licensed to do so. In fact, the bar could never obtain a tattoo license because a business cannot tattoo and serve alcohol in the same place. The second violation is giving someone a tattoo while he or she was under the influence.

The board debated the second violation because there is no proof anyone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while they received the tattoo. But, the board assumed it was probably happening since the club advertised the tattoos in a place that serves alcohol. According to the board, the club also made no attempt to keep people from getting tattoos while they were intoxicated.

Officials found out about the tattooing because of promotional material in the form of a flier.

When officials arrived at Lush, they found a sheet hanging in the middle of the club. When they pulled up the sheet, a tattoo artist was tattooing a female. The police could not determine who the girl was or if she was intoxicated because she fled quickly.

The board issued a penalty of closing for 10 days for each of the penalties, totalling 20 days. 

Interim Finance Director Bill Betts opposed a penalty of 20 days. He thought it was too harsh since the club has had no prior offenses and has a clean history, besides a few fights. The club manager was also cooperative when police arrived.

Betts was the only board member out of three to oppose the penalty. He said he supported a penalty, but not for 20 days.

But Interim Fire Chief Jason Turner said he values the health and safety of Jefferson City citizens, which is why he proposed a penalty of 20 days.

Once the club is notified of the penalty, it has 10 days to appeal. It must appeal by August 5.

"Because it's a preliminary hearing, it's not binding. They'll have a chance to appeal whatever decision and present whatever evidence they want," said Jefferson City Attorney Drew Hilpert. "So they may just be waiting to see what happens, or they may not know about the meeting."

If the club does file an appeal, a full administrative hearing will happen where the board will sit as a judge would sit, and the club will present evidence in a formal manner. If the board makes a decision the club doesn't agree with again, the club can appeal that decision to a circuit court.

Although the club is only open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it has a license to operate six days of the week. The board decided to make the penalty according to the six days it could operate rather than the three days it does operate. Therefore, the 20 days will start August 12 and last until September 3. It can reopen September 4.

No board member opposed the start and end dates.

The person giving the tattoos was not licensed. He was issued a summons to municipal court, although that case is separate from the bar's case.

"A problem for him, but a side-issue to the bar itself," said Hilpert.