There are no good guys in the war of words over a liquor license for a new bar on Riverside Avenue.
Jeff Rahenkamp, who previously operated Pub Ink on Main Street, wants to open a new pub in the former Shenanigans location at 17 and 25 S. Riverside Ave. and has applied for a liquor license to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The Medford City Council will issue a recommendation to the OLCC, but the liquor agency has the final say.
The OLCC cracked down hard on the former Shenanigans operation, which involved multiple bars connected by a central outdoor patio, because of repeated liquor law violations, and the business folded. At its height, the complex was drawing 2,000 patrons on weekends and allegedly was responsible for more drunken driving convictions than any other bar in the state.
Rahenkamp is not connected with the former ownership, and plans to run just one bar connected to the patio. The second address would be opened only occasionally for musical events. Still, the OLCC declared it would require any new operator of the Shenanigans location to observe the same extra restrictions it had placed on that business.
Medford Police chief Tim George, in a memo to the City Council, urged the council to oppose Rahenkamp's liquor license application, citing a 17-year-old conviction for second-degree theft and a seven-year-old prostitution conviction, which the Circuit Court expunged from Rahenkamp's record and sealed a year ago. George's memo noted this, saying the prostitution conviction "cannot be part of this consideration for recommendation," but listed the conviction anyway.
The memo also notes Rahenkamp was cited for failing to obtain permission before painting the outside of the building. A permit is required under city code in historic districts such as the downtown core.
All of these factors except the painting citations were known to the council and to the OLCC a year ago when Rahenkamp applied for and received a liquor license for Pub Ink, another former Shenanigans location on Main Street. He operated that bar for several months without any liquor law violations or run-ins with Medford police.
Now, it seems city officials are trying to prevent him from operating a new bar.
Rahenkamp is hardly blameless in all of this. His reaction to the paint citations and to official reservations about his business plans was to call city officials "idiots" and "morons" — not the kind of remarks that will tend to endear him to those influencing his future aspirations.