City Council delays liquor license decision for Omaha bar involved in DUI investigation

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 3:10 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to delay a decision about whether to revoke the liquor license of a west Omaha bar.

The future of The Good Life Sports Bar and Grill is on the rocks after accusations of employees serving minors.

Omaha Police reports show the first issue involving the bar was Christmas Eve 2020, when a 20-year-old man went to the bar with friends — all under the legal drinking age — before crashing his car near 138th and Q streets while driving at speeds up to 105 miles per hour. His blood-alcohol level was recorded at .202 — 2.5 times the legal limit for drivers of legal drinking age.

The assistant city attorney said the 20-year-old and his father made several phone calls to Chad McMahon, the owner of the bar, asking for a video. That proves the owner was aware of the video, the attorney said.

A police officer asked McMahon to meet him at Good Life to get the video, and the owner refused. The police served a search warrant Dec. 30, 2020, and seized the video equipment, but the video had been erased. An officer’s bodycam recording showed the bar owner saying, “Why would I want to give you my video?”

The bar owner’s attorney said his client “did not handle the situation well” and asked to delay the next hearing and the revocation would be “premature.”

“There is no public safety issue here,” he said.

During public testimony, a former employee of the bar said she was told to serve patrons even if she suspected their IDs were fake.

A patron of the bar testified that McMahon “needed to be a better steward of his business. The bottom line is, how much money is he going to lose? ... If you’re talking about lost wages, how much is it going to cost to pay for my medical care?

“Having 16 surgeries sucks,” he said.

A manager of the bar disputed the former employee’s testimony.

“We tell our servers to follow the rules,” she said. “We card everyone.”

Another Good Life employee said she had been taught how to spot a fake ID and that the bar shouldn’t be punished because of a bad server.

The general manager of Good Life’s Papillion location testified that she had been with the company for six years and would fire employees who serve alcohol to minors. She said many of the servers were between 19 and 24 years old. They are not ID experts, she said. But closing the bar would serve no purpose, she said.

Council members debated whether they should let the criminal process play out before making a decision.

Councilwoman Colleen Brennan said underage drinking cannot be allowed and was alarmed by this case. Councilwoman Aimee Melton said she would like the county attorney to make the decision, not the council. She wondered whether the council should do more research before making a decision and suggested placing the hearing on file.

Councilman Brinker Harding had questions about the council’s authority and wondered whether the council could suggest a suspension to the Liquor Commission. Councilman Vinny Palermo said he looked up the Good Life website, and noted that “something for everyone” was written over a photo of the bar.

“Maybe it should say, ‘Something for everyone over 21,’ ” Palermo said.

Watch Tuesday’s City Council discussion

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