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Belly up?

A Medford nightclub that was the toast of the town in 2010 could be shut down by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission after recording the highest number of driving-under-the-influence cases of any bar in the state in 2011.

Shenanigan's Irish Pub, which at its height was a collection of four clubs and a central patio area, still is operating, but barely.

The Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings will hold a hearing on June 12 to determine whether the liquor license for Shenanigan's should be canceled.

Owner Bruce Brown, who said he is on the verge of bankruptcy, said he was in the process of selling the business to restaurateur Jolie Josephson, a police officer's wife, but the deal was killed by Medford Chief of Police Tim George.

"Tim George is out to destroy me, and I don't know why," he said.

Brown also blamed the OLCC, which would impose the same restrictions on serving alcohol on the new owner of the business.

"I'm thinking they are trying to make me leave town without any money," he said.

George said Brown is mistaken in his belief that the police are targeting Shenanigan's. "I didn't run anybody out of town," George said.

He confirmed he doesn't approve of a police officer whose wife would be interested in buying a bar.

"That's true — I don't like that at all," he said, declining to elaborate because it's a personnel matter.

An officer and the city would be exposed to many potential conflicts if a spouse were connected to an establishment that served liquor, George said.

He said the Police Department would be put in an even more difficult situation if an officer were working or volunteering at a bar during off hours.

"It would put an enormous amount of conflict on the employee," he said.

Josephson, owner of Jolie's Bento Central in downtown Medford and wife of Officer R.J. Josephson, could not be reached for comment.

OLCC has documented 71 incidents at the club, including fighting, punching and verbal assaults. On one occasion a beer bottle was used as a weapon since 2011, according to OLCC.

In 2011, OLCC recorded 90 DUII cases attributed to Shenanigan's.

"We've proposed to cancel his license for persistent and serious problems," said Christie Scott, OLCC spokeswoman.

Scott said OLCC tried to bring Shenanigan's back into compliance by restricting how much alcohol could be contained in drinks and limiting the amount of drinks that could be served to one person to just one.

She said those restrictions have been violated on two occasions.

Scott said Shenanigan's has a persistent problem of overserving alcohol as well as other issues where people have been hurt.

Scott said OLCC would put the same restrictions on a new owner of the nightclub if the new owner wanted to retain the same type of operation as Shenanigan's.

Only after a business has shown a track record of good behavior would the restrictions be lifted, she said.

OLCC attempted to work with the owner of Shenanigan's, she said, but Brown never fully resolved the issue of serving too much alcohol.

"It is the result of his actions," she said. "Having a liquor license is a big responsibility."

With only 45 inspectors to cover 12,000 establishments that serve alcohol, the OLCC relies heavily on local law enforcement agencies, she said.

Brown said Shenanigan's has attempted to comply with OLCC requirements, but he said the number of drunken-driving and other complaints is high because of the large turnouts and popularity of his business compared with other bars in the area.

He said Medford apparently doesn't want a successful business downtown and appears intent on leaving the corner of Main Street and Riverside Avenue with empty buildings.

"Shenanigan's is pretty much done," Brown said. "The name has been trashed."

He said he has made more than $1 million in improvements to the Shenanigan's complex and had invested an additional $200,000 in the former Hubbards Hardware store on Main Street with plans to convert it into a steak house and country western bar.

Brown said OLCC wouldn't give him a liquor license for the steak house, so he had to give up on the lease.

Shenanigan's has 17 employees now, down from a high of 68.

Brown's girlfriend and the club's manager, Lorrie Petersen, has taken a job as a flight attendant to help out because of the worsening financial situation, Brown said.

During the "Last Band Standing" event held on Wednesday nights in summer 2010, more than 20,000 people showed up, Brown said.

The business has turned from a money maker — netting $500,000 in 2010 — to losing $2,000 a week, Brown said.

Despite his objections to what he sees as the heavy-handedness of law enforcement, Brown said he has found some activities at his nightclub objectionable.

"I'm appalled at some of the stuff that's gone on here — the fights and stuff," Brown said.

A security guard's jaw was broken in one fight, and a Medford police officer was punched in the chest during another incident last year.

Only the Irish pub, nightclub and patio area continue to operate at Shenanigan's during the evening until closing.

Sambuca and Shenanigan's Sports Bar on Main Street have been converted into Roxy on Main and Pub Ink.

Brown said he thinks it is unfair OLCC didn't place restrictions on the new owners of the Main Street addresses, but would place them on the new owners of the other clubs facing Riverside Avenue.

Scott said the Roxy and Pub Ink operate under different formats than the previous owners and don't operate in the central patio area.

Brown said he plans to continue fighting OLCC and Medford police despite what he views as their efforts to get rid of a nightclub that was once the most popular from Roseburg to Northern California.

"They don't want any sign of the former Shenanigan's," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com.

Shenanigan's owner Bruce Brown and Lorrie Petersen, his girlfriend and club manager, say the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Medford police are trying to run them out of town. But the OLCC says it's recommending Brown lose his liquor license because of persistent violations, including assaults and a record number of DUIIs associated with the once four-club complex. - Bob Pennell