Two men with hopes of opening a bar in the site of the former Club Sahari in Park Layne spoke with Bethel Township Trustees on Tuesday evening about their plans to undo the negative image left by the location’s former occupant.

Donald McKee and Darrell VanHoose attended Tuesday’s meeting of the township trustees to establish an open line of communication regarding their plans for the business as well as their commitment to operating the bar in a manner entirely different than Club Sahari.

The previous bar was the source of much contention earlier this year when numerous residents and adjacent business owners spoke out publicly against Club Sahari and its patrons, saying the continuous disturbances in the back alley and loitering out front caused issues for neighboring residents and business-owners alike. That bar was closed after the property’s landlord ordered Club Sahari’s owners to vacate the premises in the wake of the public complaints.

McKee acknowledged the former bar’s bad reputation, saying that he and VanHoose were committed to undoing that image by changing several features of the location.

“We know it’s been a thorn in your side in the past,” McKee told trustees. “We’re looking to rejuvenate it, and we’ve laid plans that we’d be happy to share with you.”

McKee said they plan to add large windows to the storefront in order to match the rest of the shopping center and to allow more light into the bar, saying this will end the “dungeon” setting of the former business. He said they will also pour a concrete patio area out back for smokers, which will be surrounded by fencing in order to provide more privacy for nearby residents.

Trustee Dave Phares asked if the patio would include seating for outdoor drinking. VanHoose said the patio area would be more for patrons to enjoy a quick cigarette before returning back inside, and that it would not be a primary congregating area for other customers. Phares also asked if they would serve food at the bar, and McKee replied that they would offer frozen pizzas cooked in a toaster oven, saying that bars are required to offer at least one hot food item.

When the trustees were asked for their input, Phares insisted that loitering out front be monitored closely, as this was one of the primary issues with neighboring businesses. Trustee Nancy Brown said that loitering and nuisance complaints almost caused the adjacent salon, Park Layne Stylists, to go out of business.

“No loitering, and enforce it,” Phares said.

McKee and VanHoose asked trustees for their support and to consider granting them a liquor license. Brown said the township does not grant liquor licenses, but has the right to request a hearing with the liquor control board if any objections are raised.

“But, these are different owners…different business model, I don’t see it to be a problem,” she said, thanking the men for their openness in reaching out to the township.

Trustee Don Minton said he did not have any issues with the proposed new business, saying that the plan developed by McKee and VanHoose seemed to be entirely different than the previous bar.

McKee said the new bar would be called D&D’s Layne Lounge, and that they could open in as early as 90 days.

“It’s always had a dark, seedy past,” McKee said of the location, stressing that they plan to attract an “older, more mature” customer base.

He said the new bar will offer two pool tables, several dartboards, and at least eight televisions lining the walls. D&D’s Layne Lounge plans to be open from 3 p.m. to 2 or 2:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. until 2 or 2:30 a.m. on weekends. McKee and VanHoose must obtain their liquor license before officially taking control of the business.

The New Carlisle News will bring you updates on this story as they become available.

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