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Assaults, Fights And A Carjacking Plague Hard Water Bar, Records Show

By  Linze Rice and Mark Schipper | June 10, 2016 5:34am 

 Records show over 100 calls for police to incidents related to the bar over a one-year span, but the bar's co-owner said the bar isn't to blame for all the rowdiness.
Records show over 100 calls for police to incidents related to the bar over a one-year span, but the bar's co-owner said the bar isn't to blame for all the rowdiness.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice

ROGERS PARK — Security will be tightened at Hard Water Bar and Grill after more than 100 calls were made to police regarding fights, assaults, robbery and other incidents at or outside the bar, according to city records and officials.

At least 103 calls to 911 were made related to the bar's address at 7545 N. Clark St. between April 1, 2015 and April 1 of this year, according to data obtained by DNAinfo through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The calls include:

• 15 for battery;

• 48 for loud noise, music or other disturbances;

• one claiming someone was selling drugs;

• two for incidents that involved the assault or threatened assault of a police officer;

• one for a robbery of a man who lost cash and his van at gunpoint in the parking lot;

• one for assault and theft;

• two related to persons threatening suicide;

• two for criminal trespassing;

• and two for criminal damage to property.

After a Liquor Control Commission meeting at City Hall May 24, the city ordered the bar to make cell phone numbers to Hard Water managers available to nearby residents so they can be reached at all times.

City officials also said the bar must improve security in the bar's parking lot and ensure guards are easily visible with bright shirts or vests clearly labeled "security," said Mika Stambaugh, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Devon Kelly, the bar's co-owner, acknowledged some of the recent crime, but said it didn't define her business.

"We do a lot more then just have loud drunk people in our parking lot at 4 a.m.," Kelly said in a written message to DNAinfo, pointing to a recent political rally held for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the bar.

"There is a lot of crime in Rogers Park in general. A lot of the 911 call[s] from next door are from things going on in our parking lot and some of these people never even step into our bar."

'I Will Make You Disappear'

Though the bar and restaurant at the Chicago-Evanston border near Howard Street is a regular hang-out for many locals, an average of two times a week, incidents on the property led someone to call 911, records show.

One of those calls came in around 4:22 a.m. on Aug. 30, when a police sergeant attempted to get an unruly patron to leave the bar, police said. The man clenched his fist and attempted to "poke" the sergeant in his forehead, saying, "I will make you disappear m-----------," records show.

In "fear of receiving a battery," the officer arrested the man.

Three months earlier, around 4:08 a.m., an officer — called to the bar to assist other officers with a battery they'd witnessed inside — tried to break up a crowd gathering around the bar after other customers were asked to leave. That angered an Evanston woman, who took a swing at the officer, records note. 

After resisting arrest and flailing her arms, an "emergency handcuffing" was instituted and the woman was arrested, the records state

More recently, at 2:10 a.m. on March 19, a Skokie man was robbed of $15 in cash by a man with with a nickel-plated semi-automatic handgun, who then hopped into the victim's van and drove off with two accomplices inside.

Amusement License

Stambaugh said her office began investigating the bar earlier this year after getting "unacceptable" complaints from residents, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and police, and found the bar was operating outside the scope of its licenses, although she didn't detail how.

At the time, the bar had food, liquor and late night licenses.

Despite the police calls and other complaints, on April 27, Hard Water was granted a Public Place of Amusement (PPA) license, required for nightclubs or dance clubs, bars that have Karaoke or DJs or rent out facilities for parties or public events, among other establishments. It was also given an outdoor patio license, which had earlier been canceled.

City records showing whether anyone objected to Hard Water getting the PPA were not immediately available.

But since then, more than 130 residents signed a petition seeking to revoke the bar's late night and PPA licenses. It was presented it to the liquor commission at its May 24 meeting.

Stambaugh said her department is monitoring the bar, as is the Rogers Park Police District.

"If crime is a concern with the issuing of a PPA license, then the notification process would hopefully bring that to our attention," Stambaugh said.

The bar is set to go back before the Liquor Control Commission at City Hall on June 20. The meeting is open to the public.

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