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Downtown bar closes after sale of building
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Downtown bar closes after sale of building

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Don’s Big 10, a downtown Davenport bar known for its rough and sometimes violent atmosphere, has been closed by an investor who bought the building and plans to renovate it.

Ron Frantz, who has cleaned up a number of properties in Davenport’s Hilltop section on Harrison Street south of Locust Street, said that ideally he wants to see a restaurant open in the space where the tavern was, but he is unsure of what will go in at 429 W. 3rd St.

“I just had a different vision of what to do with that building than what has been going on there for the past 10 years,” said Frantz, who owns buildings on two other corners at West 3rd and Scott streets where Don’s was located. “I want to make the neighborhood look like a place where you can stop.”

Residents of The Heritage Highrise and Lend-A-Hand, elderly housing which book-ends Don’s in the 400 and 500 blocks of West 3rd, said they are not sorry to see the bar close. It has been a frequent source of loud noise and crowds, fights and other disturbances.

“A lot of times there are fights out there and they wake everyone up,” said Deke Sterling, 66, a Heritage resident. “If you don’t hear them, you hear the police coming with their sirens.”

Laura Thomas, 73, a resident of Lend-A-Hand, said she was glad to see Don’s closed, calling it “a dive. I don’t know why they would build senior housing next to that darn old tavern,” she said.

During a 12-month period ending Monday, police made 94 calls to Don’s, according to department computer records. Those included 36 disturbances, six assaults, four thefts and two robberies.

Capt. David Struckman, department spokesman, said he was unable to say whether that was an excessive number of calls for “a hard-drinking blue collar bar,” but noted that the number of disturbance calls was probably not out of line for similar taverns in the city.

But police calls to Don’s have been an issue over the years as owner DMC Corp. requested annual renewals of its liquor license. A list of police calls attached to a renewal application in December noted 117 police responses to the tavern in a 12-month period. “Call load substantially down from pervious year,” said a handwritten note on the application.

On purchase of the building, which also includes 14 apartment units, Frantz said he exercised a clause in the lease for Don’s that allowed him to ask the bar to

move. “The lack of crime in the neighborhood justifies the loss of $850 a month in rent,” he said.

In March, owners of Don’s applied to the city to move the bar to an unoccupied building at 1324 Harrison, the site of a former television and appliance repair shop. However, the request was removed from consideration before the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment last month after it was discovered that the new establishment would be within 500 feet of facilities at Central High School in violation of a city ordinance.

Michael and Linda Clark, who are listed on city applications as principals in DMC Inc. and owners of Don’s, were unavailable for comment about plans for the tavern to the Quad-City Times.

The site of the former tavern is adjacent to the Linden Apartments building at 219 Scott St., which was gutted by a fire in October and has been unoccupied since. A notice from the city dated March 29 requires the owner, Lee Nelson, to either repair or demolish the structure.

Tom Saul can be contacted at

(563) 383-2453 or tsaul@qctimes.com.

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