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The Keg ordered closed for two days

The Liquor Control Review Board voted this noon to order The Keg of Evanston closed next Thursday and Friday because of ongoing complaints about underage drinking and other violations at the bar.

The Liquor Control Review Board voted this noon to order The Keg of Evanston closed next Thursday and Friday because of ongoing complaints about underage drinking and other violations at the bar.

The action was triggered by an incident in the early hours of May 21 when a patron was injured in a fight at the bar at 810 Grove St. and police reported difficulty dealing with a crowd of unruly bar patrons who poured out onto the street.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the patron who was injured, and had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital, was underage and had been drinking at the bar.

Police report 55 calls to the bar since the start of the year, and while no comparative figures were immediately available, liquor board members concluded that’s far more incidents than have happened in the same time frame at any other establishment in the city.

Bar owner Tom Migon, who said he’d not been notified of the board’s meeting today until it was already underway, arrived at the session breathless a half hour after it began.

Migon, who’s owned The Keg for 18 years, said he requires patrons to show two forms of ID to get in, and he has four or five people checking identifications at the bar as well as security cameras. But he said some fake IDs look so authentic it is very difficult to spot them.

Then mayor Lorraine Morton suspended The Keg’s liquor license for seven days in June 2005 after 22-year-old Robert Gresham of Evanston was shot and killed inside the bar. Antoine Hill, of 1716 Payne St., who was 19 at the time of the incident, was later convicted of shooting Gresham and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Liquor board members expressed dismay at what they said was a long-running series of problems at the bar.

Member Marion Kelly said the bar’s reputation hasn’t changed. Kids still see this as the place to go to get liquor, she said. "Something drastic needs to be done now. It’s a continuing problem that has not in any way ebbed away."

Member Dick Peach said, "Part of Tom’s problem is that because of the bar’s reputation, kids flock there, so he’s going to get 20 times as many attempts (by underage customers) to get through the door as other establishments."

But member Patrick Hughes said, "I don’t see a lot of other businesses having this many chances at getting something right. When violence is involved as much as it is here, something else is wrong beyond just underage drinking. I think there’s a culture of violence there as well."

City Attorney Grant Farrar said the mayor, as liquor commissioner, could order the bar closed for up to seven days and impose fines of between $1,000 and $2,500. After that, with additional hearings, the law provides options for a 30-day suspension of the bar’s license and ultimately possible license revocation.

The mayor also directed city staff to make sure that in the future notice is sent by mail as well by phone call to make sure bar owners know in advance about hearings involving their establishments.

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