Fighting Words Over Downtown Bars

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, May 14 2013 at 6:09 PM, Updated: Tue, May 14 2013 at 11:22 PM

Questions arising about Jeff Rahenkamp, owner of Phat Kat Tattoo and Pub Ink in downtown Medford.

He wants to re-open the patio of the notorious Shenanigans.

"We weren't trying to re-open Shenanigans and that's what everyone seems to be worried about. Shenanigans needed to be closed."

"We're actually trying to open a very vibrant, social, responsible, downtown scene," said Rahenkamp.

Shenanigans was plagued by the highest number of DUII's in the state, was sanctioned by the OLCC then eventually shut down in 2012.

In the letter sent to Medford city officials, downtown business owners, and media outlets, CT Wallace owner of Havana Republic said he's concerned that re-opening the patio will give the downtown bar district a bad name and attract fights as well as crime. He said the downtown area has started to shift since Shenanigans closed.

"Slowly, the crowd that was created in that environment has started to leave downtown, returning it to the great customer base that a classy, prosperous downtown should have," wrote Wallace.

But Rahenkamp claims his good business practices will prevent what happened at Shenanigans from happening at his establishment.

"The fact is, I do good business. I ran my bar (Pub Ink) for 11-months without one problem."

But Wallace claims there were no reports of problems because of a lack of business volume. Rahenkamp disagreed and said 1800 people walked through his bar doors on New Years Eve, and 1400 people on Halloween.

"I think people don't really understand what it is we're trying to accomplish over there," continued Rahenkamp, who also called much of the letter a lie.

He says what he's planning to do with the space is more wholesome...including movies, pizza, drinks and a safe place for adults to relax.

"I'm trying to revitalize the downtown core. I live here, I love this place and i want it to get back to what it used to be. Not a bunch of empty dilapidated buildings," Rahenkamp said.

Wallace also pointed out Rahenkamp's criminal history...misdemeanor prostitution and theft...and questioned Rahenkamp's ability to make decisions beneficial to the city.

"Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has problems," said Rahenkamp.

In addition, Wallace questioned how someone with a criminal past could get a license to sell liquor.

"We take everyone's history into account. We look at the severity of the crimes [...] whether or not they've been on the straight and narrow for at time," said Matt Roberts, Inspector for the OLCC.

OLCC officials said they received Rahenkamp's application last week. They are in the process of reviewing it, which could take upwards of 12-weeks. Officials say if a liquor license for the patio area is granted, and Rahenkamp's business is similar to that of Shenanigans, it's possible restrictions (like required security guards, drink limits, etc.) will apply. They say they'll be closely considering the new application.

"There were several instances of fights (at Shenanigans), there were DUIIs that were reported as coming from there and there were law enforcement issues as well, so definitely not looking for those to resurface," said Roberts.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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