Shenanigan's Irish Pub

Shenanigan's Irish Pub in downtown Davenport. 

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division has affirmed a decision that allows downtown bar Shenanigan’s to retain its sell liquor-selling privileges, saying the city has failed to prove allegations that the business allows illegal activity to persist or that the bar owner lacks good moral character as defined under Iowa law.

The state agency says the evidence presented during its review process shows the bar has taken steps to address security concerns forwarded by the city. The agency’s recent ruling also says there is no evidence to support the theory that the bar’s owner failed to comply with applicable laws, ordinances and regulations.

In October, aldermen unanimously denied the liquor license, saying the bar posed public safety concerns. A presentation by the Davenport Police Department included several reports of calls for service in the area, including fights and a nearby shooting.

The affirmation from Iowa’s alcoholic regulatory agency comes several months after an administrative law judge overturned the city council’s denial of the bar’s liquor license. The city appealed that decision.

Bettendorf attorney Mike Meloy, who represents the bar owner, said in a statement that the state’s ruling “clearly shows” that the city should’ve renewed the license last year.

“The ruling fully rebuts all of the City’s arguments,” Meloy added in an emailed statement. “The City Council had no legal basis to deny Shenanigans’ license. Davenport must stop its arbitrary harassment of a lawful downtown business now.”

The city has less than 30 days to challenge the result in Scott County District Court. Davenport City Attorney Tom Warner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what the city plans to do.

Meanwhile, aldermen have long complained that the state has failed to hear their concerns about the bar. During the October hearing, several of the city’s elected officials called for the city to continue trying to pull the bar’s license despite earlier failures to do so. 

Shenanigan’s and the city’s elected leaders have been at odds before.

In 2015, Shenanigan’s was forced to temporarily close after the city called for its license to be pulled in response to a nearby stabbing — an incident later found to be unrelated to Shenanigan’s patrons. That decision was also overturned by the state. The bar sued the city in federal court, but that suit was later dismissed.

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