One Five Points bar to close, but two others can get their liquor licenses

·4 min read

Pavlov’s, a well-known college bar in Columbia’s Five Points shopping and nightlife district, is set to close its doors, but two other Five Points bars owned by the same group will get to renew their alcohol licenses under agreements with a state agency.

Emails between the state Department of Revenue and attorneys on Friday indicate Pavlov’s, located at 2000 Greene St., will be closing and will be sold. The watering hole already had been temporarily closed for several months after the state Department of Revenue requested its alcohol licenses be suspended.

Meanwhile, two other Five Points bars The Cotton Gin and The Bird Dog would be allowed to renew their alcohol licenses through deals struck with the revenue department. The State obtained copies of those signed agreements on Friday. The bars will have to adhere to a number of stipulations, including using forensic ID scanners at all entrances, using a “hand stamp” system for every patron who enters the bars and have cameras at all entrances and points of sale, among other conditions.

The Bird Dog and The Cotton Gin must also price all of their liquor drinks at more than $3.50 and all beer at more than $3. They also must offer food items and delivery through Uber Eats or a similar service.

Pavlov’s, The Cotton Gin, and The Bird Dog are all owned, at least in part, by businessman Jon Sears. All of those bars have had their alcohol licenses protested by residents who live in neighborhoods near Five Points. The law firm of Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a Democrat who lives in nearby Wales Garden, has long been representing neighbors in various protests of liquor licenses for some bars in Five Points. The urban village has been a favorite hangout for University of South Carolina students for decades.

USC also had been protesting Pavlov’s alcohol license renewal.

The State has reached out to the attorney for Pavlov’s, The Bird Dog and The Cotton Gin.

Attorney Chris Kenney, who works for Harpootlian’s law firm, confirmed Friday afternoon that the neighbors near Five Points have dropped their protest of The Bird Dog and The Cotton Gin in favor of those bars’ agreements with the revenue department. Kenney also said it was his understanding that Pavlov’s is set to close.

“The neighbors are very pleased,” Kenney said, of the alcohol license agreements. “I think the Department of Revenue and Director (Hartley) Powell and his staff ought to be commended for the work they have put into this. These agreements give these establishments (Bird Dog and Cotton Gin) the opportunity to be a productive, lawful business. But there are stiff penalties of they don’t abide by the rules.”

Pavlov’s applied for license renewal last year, but that renewal was denied after the application was protested. Bars are allowed to continue operating while their alcohol licenses are under protest.

However, during the time in which Pavlov’s licenses were under protest and awaiting hearings, law enforcement cited several people for underage drinking at the establishment, according to court records, and the revenue department ultimately filed for a temporary suspension of the booze licenses there. The bar had been temporarily closed since April.

The deals struck for The Cotton Gin and The Bird Dog to renew their alcohol licenses are just the latest in what has been a small flurry of activity that will keep drinks flowing in Five Points.

In June, the Rooftop Bar and Lounge on Harden Street made a deal with the revenue department to end a protest of its booze permits. Among the stipulations in that Rooftop agreement were that the bar must use a forensic ID scanner at all of its entrances and maintain up-to-date software for those scanners. The bar also agreed to provide law enforcement with copies of records related to the ID scanners. The bar must maintain security cameras at all entrances and at points-of-sale of alcohol, and it must maintain the footage from those cameras for a rolling seven-day period.

Then, in July a state judge ruled that Breakers and Breakers Live, two associated bars that sit side-by-side along Harden Street, could get their alcohol licenses. Those bars, which have new ownership, had been in a battle with the Department of Revenue over the licenses. Like other bars in recent agreements, Breakers and Breakers Live will have to meet a number of stipulations regarding ID scanners, cameras and the pricing of its drinks.

This story will be updated.

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