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Skittlez owner says gay club being singled out by police, commissioners

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 9:57 PM
Last updated 10:08 PM
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Augusta’s only black gay nightclub is facing closure for admitting an underage patron, but the club’s owner says his club is being unfairly singled out – while his attorney says the city’s nightclub law might not be legal.

Timothy Lowery said he opened Skittlez Bar and Grill last year to capture an untapped market in Augusta, with much success.

“Nobody was doing the black gay thing, so that’s why I did it. There was nowhere for that group to go,” Lowery said in a Tuesday telephone interview.

Lowery was recommended by the sheriff’s office planning department and the Augusta Commission in February 2012 for an on-premises liquor, beer and wine license for Skittlez. He paid the $4,779 fee and opened the doors in July, later employing his daughter as a bartender.

An Augusta Chronicle report from May found that Skittlez had had no incidents of crime when other clubs had dozens or even hundreds. However, Lowery was penalized for an April incident involving an unpermitted adult dancer who removed his clothing in the presence of a minor.

The Augusta Commission voted to suspend Lowery’s license in June for three months and place it on probation for a year, and when he reopened, things proceeded trouble-free until a recent Friday. Lowery said he didn’t hire security because he wasn’t expecting a crowd.

That evening, Lowery claims he invited inside from the parking lot a minor who was serving as designated driver for several of-age patrons. The minor recently had a seizure in the club parking lot, Lowery said, and he didn’t want that to happen again with no one around to help.

The unnamed minor’s presence was the only violation cited by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at a Monday meeting of the city’s public services committee, although Investigator Tony Hyatt said other minors in the parking lot were complaining about being ejected when police arrived.

RCSO and Planning recommended revoking Skittlez’ license, but Lowery said that’s not fair.

“It’s blatantly obvious what’s going on when you have clubs with hundreds of incidents” that are allowed to remain open, while he faces revocation for one, Lowery said.

A month ago, former Magic City owner Tyrone Davis was allowed by the commission to keep his new Pure Platinum Sports Bar open a few blocks from Skittlez on Gordon Highway, despite incidents that
included a March beating death in the club’s parking area and about 14 instances of unlawful alcohol consumption.

Lowery said he’s being singled out not so much for his clientele but because he complained to federal investigators last year about being targeted and because the city isn’t fair in its application of the rules.

“No company is going to want to set up in Richmond County if they think it’s going to be corruption,” he said.

Lowery, who said he learned late that Skittlez was being considered for revocation Monday, arrived with attorney Jack Batson, who dismissed most of the allegations against his client as parking lot hearsay to which investigators “bootstrapped” the single offense - the underage patron who hadn’t been served alcohol inside the club.

The city’s lounge ordinance, moreover, is too vague in its prohibition against allowing minors in bars, something not outlawed by the state, Batson said.

Augusta General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said Tuesday that cities are allowed to impose greater restrictions than the state in certain areas. “I think our code is constitutional,” he said.

Augusta commissioners were divided on support for Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle’s motion to revoke Skittlez’ license Monday. The club had support in Commissioner Bill Lockett, who called most of the evidence against Lowery circumstantial. The revocation goes before the full commission next week.

Lowery said customers are already asking where they will go if Skittlez is shut down, but expected existing nightclubs would welcome the new business, now that he’s established a customer base.

“They can be themselves in this place without fearing somebody’s gay-bashing them,” he said. “The message I got yesterday is what we going to do now?”

Comments (34) Add comment
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just an opinion
2381
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just an opinion 10/29/13 - 10:23 pm
4
1
DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!!

That ought-a do it. $4,779?? Do they charge straight clubs that much?

fishman960
1420
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fishman960 10/29/13 - 10:25 pm
5
2
Funny

Gay bashing...
Not my cup of tea, but I find it remarkable that his business is attracting a lot of business...
Seriously, I had no idea that Augusta had such a rainbow.

jimmymac
33325
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jimmymac 10/30/13 - 12:26 am
1
0
VIOLATIONS
Unpublished

It would seem that this club is indeed being treated differently than other clubs in Augusta. You'd like to think that there's no bias involved but it sure looks that way.

lddist
101
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lddist 10/30/13 - 05:55 am
6
5
Where are they going if

Where are they going if skittlez closes down...how about back in the closet. Lol. Uh oh. Hope I'm not gay bashing. Just a joke Don't be offended people.

Bodhisattva
5639
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Bodhisattva 10/30/13 - 06:01 am
11
3
Not quite sure why a bar, a

Not quite sure why a bar, a business that sells alcohol and possibly food, can be dinged for having a minor present who doesn't consume alcohol, but a restaurant like Applebee's, that serves food and copious amounts of alcohol can be full of kids who don't consume alcohol and it's business as usual.

angedelune
223
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angedelune 10/30/13 - 07:13 am
0
4
eh

eh

karradur
2848
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karradur 10/30/13 - 06:58 am
8
1
Okay, let's talk this through.

I'm sure this article will have devolved into gay-bashing and race-bashing by the end of the day, but for the moment, let's look at the objective facts:

From what it sounds like, Skittlez might be the most morally upstanding nighttime establishment to ever exist in South Augusta.

It is very strange that this one incident (and from what it sounds like, the only incident ever) would be what closes Skittlez, while establishments that have had actual murders get to stay open.

I don't know what's really going on here, but something isn't right.

karradur
2848
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karradur 10/30/13 - 07:02 am
6
6
@iddist

Don't make a joke that you know is ignorant and then say "uh oh hope i'm not being ignorant L O L !"

seenitB4
81834
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seenitB4 10/30/13 - 07:25 am
9
3
Gay clubs?

Does Augusta have a white gay club too?

Riverman1
79663
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Riverman1 10/30/13 - 07:32 am
9
4
SeenIt, I wouldn't know.

SeenIt, I wouldn't know.

karradur
2848
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karradur 10/30/13 - 07:41 am
5
2
@seenitb4

It's called Argos.

seenitB4
81834
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seenitB4 10/30/13 - 07:45 am
5
3
^^^heh heh

You do realize that you don't have to be gay to frequent the club...?

Many go to the gay pride parade in Atlanta & enjoy the activities..& they don't "partake."

thanks karradur

Little Lamb
43965
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Little Lamb 10/30/13 - 07:48 am
6
2
Smoking

Does Skittlez allow smoking tobacco inside?

Bpope55
11
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Bpope55 10/30/13 - 08:14 am
7
2
Yes Just an Opinion...

Straight clubs pay that much too. I was a bartender for 23 years in straight clubs I might add lol and the liquor license costs $2000.00, beer license is $1500.00, wine license is $700.00, $110.00 app fee then there is the consumption license. I'm not sure how much that costs and all the prices I quoted are approximate because I retired from the business in "04" after 23 years of service. The licenses are good for 2 years. I hope that clears up the reason why they had to pay $4,779.00 in fees. Y'all have a blessed day!

raul
4163
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raul 10/30/13 - 09:05 am
3
2
I've always thought they were

I've always thought they were much to lenient on clubs with multiple offenses and no revocation. It should be, you get put on probation and if you receive another offense during that time, your license is revoked. Period.

InChristLove
22420
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InChristLove 10/30/13 - 09:15 am
6
1
Main thing that disturbs me

Main thing that disturbs me about this is that they have a minor being a designated driver who recently had a seizure in the parking lot (his reasoning for having the minior inside the establishment). What's the liability to the owner if this designated driver has another seizure while transporting an over-intoxicated driver home and injures someone?

daphne3520
950
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daphne3520 10/30/13 - 09:34 am
0
0
Bizkit
29261
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Bizkit 10/30/13 - 09:53 am
6
1
Augusta has a large gay

Augusta has a large gay community-you probably work with someone who is gay (I've never known a lazy or unproductive gay person). But they have to obey the laws as they stand like anyone else (no matter how illogical). Being "gay" or "black" minorities has nothing to do with it-it's a minor in a bar. Minors in bars has been banned for as long as I can remember. Why would they close them with just one offense is an appropriate question-do they close Jiffy stores when they sale cigarettes to minors?
As far as gay bashing or racist comments-I don't approve but it is a free country so I have to support their freedom as would a group of christians at a church meeting or communist at a Communist Party USA rally. People have different "beliefs" and I don't make judgements related to that because where would it end.

itsanotherday1
40399
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itsanotherday1 10/30/13 - 10:26 am
5
0
I have to agree with

I have to agree with karradur; something doesn't seem kosher with the application of the law. If you want to close someone down for minor infractions, fine with me; just apply the standards equally.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 10/30/13 - 10:32 am
0
0
Just for bod's
Unpublished

information: adult males don't generally take their clothes off in front of young people in APPLEBEES. Just sayin', bod.

JayJay
29
Points
JayJay 10/30/13 - 11:40 am
0
4
Come on guys, this place looks classy!

https://www.facebook.com/timothywlowery?ref=br_rs&fref=browse_search#!/timothywlowery?fref=browse_search

karradur
2848
Points
karradur 10/30/13 - 11:43 am
4
1
@JayJay

My favorite bar, Firehouse, is the farthest thing from "classy", but it's still my absolute favorite place downtown.

Why does it have to be "classy" for people to enjoy it?

Echoes86
911
Points
Echoes86 10/30/13 - 11:47 am
6
0
Good comments

A lot of good comments here. No infraction should be without punishment, but it does disturb me that other clubs in that area that have had similar and far worse infractions/crimes are allowed to stay open. Each nightclub should be treated the same.

corgimom
28246
Points
corgimom 10/30/13 - 11:56 am
1
7
It was the unpermitted dancer

It was the unpermitted dancer that took off their clothes, RC is very, very strict about that. And no nightclub owner is allowed to invite an underage person into a club, the reason he gave is absolute nonsense. If he was afraid the person was going to have a seizure, he should've told him to go home.

burninater
8921
Points
burninater 10/30/13 - 03:42 pm
6
0
The fact that an unpermitted

The fact that an unpermitted dancer would be a major issue demonstrates how absolutely messed up some "moral" prerogatives can be.

Basically, the Commission is saying its okay if human beings are repeatedly assaulted, knifed, or shot at your nightclub -- but as soon as one is unclothed, you'll get shut down. That is simply sickening.

PhiloPublius
386
Points
PhiloPublius 10/30/13 - 02:44 pm
2
4
Yaay Disgusta

Remind me again why I don't go down Gordon Hwy anymore... Oh yeah.

Sometimes I wish we weren't a 'free country'. Too many people take advantage of it and not enough Moral people standing against them.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 10/30/13 - 03:01 pm
3
2
burn, the issue wasn't that

burn, the issue wasn't that the dancer was unclothed, it was that the dancer unclothed in front of a minor.

itsanotherday1
40399
Points
itsanotherday1 10/30/13 - 03:02 pm
6
0
Philo

So, you entertain the idea of restricting freedoms. Which ones of yours are you willing to give up if others decide they don't like them?

karradur
2848
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karradur 10/30/13 - 03:12 pm
5
0
@itsanotherday1

Shh, I'm enjoying this. I knew someone would talk about how there should be restrictions on this kind of establishment and put their foot firmly in their mouth.

karradur
2848
Points
karradur 10/30/13 - 03:17 pm
6
0
@PhiloPublius

"Sometimes I wish we weren't a 'free country'."

Would you also like to "fundamentally change America"?

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