Outlaws denied renewed liquor license


Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher, Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin, Ward 3 Rep. Anita Rollins and City Manager Steve Schainker during the regular Ames City Council meeting May 10.

The Ames City Council voted to deny Outlaws a liquor license renewal after the bar failed two compliance checks, had 15 on-site citations and testimony from an ex-employee for allowing minors in and selling them alcohol Tuesday evening.


Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff suggested the council deny the liquor license renewal after substantial evidence was gathered by the police, including allowing minors into the bar. In the past year, Ames PD has issued 15 citations for underage individuals to the bar including some who were allegedly let in by employees. Michael Schwab, an ex-employee of the bar, said staff colluded to let in minors which Huff found troubling.

“I have never in my career seen the employees colluding to let minors in and I’ve been doing this 28 years,” Huff said. “It is difficult for me to make a recommendation other than no renewal when employees are actively working against the system to keep minors out of the bar.”

Schwab provided the council with screenshots of messages and social media posts, including one post from former manager Kasey Walters saying, “No minors let in unless I am asked.”

“These events are not an outlier. The only outlier is that someone came forward and they got caught,” Schwab said. “I’ve had managers order me to let in everyone before 11, and then when I refused, I was scheduled after 11 p.m.”

Schwab alleged the license owner, Andrew White, was aware of the situation since February and ignored him until he threatened to go to the city council. White said he was alerted of an isolated incident which was corrected, and was not aware of a widespread problem at the time.

“I would agree with [the Chief] that in my 30-plus years, I haven’t seen texts like that either,” White said. “I have no excuses, I have no explanation– I was blindsided by what I saw.”

Several council members found an issue with White being unaware of the situation. They articulated that they could not take the situation lightly because Outlaws is not a new business learning how to operate.

“You should know better after 18 years how to run an establishment,” said Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin.

While White claims the problems over the past year were addressed, Huff countered that the latest failed compliance check took place on Oct. 20, and Outlaws has been issued numerous on-site citations in the past year.

“I get the point about wanting a second chance and admitting your mistakes [but] for me it is an issue of fairness in the liquor license we denied last time,” said At-Large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen.

Ultimately, the council did not give them that chance, voting 5-1 to deny the renewal application, with At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri being the sole vote against it.

“I’m having a hard time squaring the fact that we just renewed a liquor license last week, a 12-month license, for someone with 15 citations in the last 12 months,” Corrieri said .

According to Ames Police Chief Huff, Outlaws can appeal the decision first to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division and operate as normal until the appeal is finalized. If the appeal fails, Outlaws cannot sell alcohol for one year or until a new licensee applies for and is granted a new liquor license.

“Where I look at that is the establishment last council meeting passed their compliance check, and this establishment failed twice,” said Ward 4 Rep. Rachel Junck. “So if we were to give a second chance, it would be the second compliance check which was just failed”.

Regardless of the council’s actions Tuesday, by failing two compliance checks within two years, Outlaws was already prescribed a 30-day suspension and a $1,500 fine.

Additional Actions

The council unanimously approved the updates to the Urban Fringe Plan, which according to the city staff, will maintain the primary interests of the city. Several opponents to the plan spoke at the meeting, including Ames resident Kim Christiansen who wants the plan to be a win for everyone.

“Many of these owners have lived on these properties since before Steve [Schainker] was the city manager,” Chistiansen said. “We admirably call this B.S., before Steve. These folks are not excited about having their property rights taken away.”

He suggested the council disregard any type of fringe plan because the only other fringe plan in the state does not look like the suggested plan.

“There is just no way to accommodate the growth Ames needs just with increasing density,” Gartin said.

The council’s vote will send the plan back to the Story County Board of Supervisors, and the council will receive an update from them in December.

The council also unanimously approved several measures, including to enter into the Resource Enhancement and Protection grant agreement, deleting standards for roof-mounted solar energy systems for residential, commercial, and industrial properties, and holding public hearings on both water and sewer revenue loan and disbursement agreements.

Additionally, the council unanimously declined a proposal for the low-income housing tax credit Baker Subdivision for multi-family housing development. They also directed staff to prepare an outline in December to solicit development proposals for the project in January 2023 for either 4% or 9% tax credit.

Regarding a response to the West Towne’s request for residential uses, the council opted to allow the applicant to apply for a text amendment to allow for ground-level residential units and open all 325 residential units to section 8 vouchers on a vote of 5-1. Gartin dissented, citing the unusual nature and inconsistency of quid pro quo with the section 8 housing.

Editor’s note: This article incorrectly spelled Michael Schwab’s name and has since been updated to reflect the correction. It has also updated since publish to correctly reflect Allen’s quote as “No minors let in unless I am asked.” The Daily regrets these errors.