"The Bent Elbow can open, but only as long as it can keep with its payment schedule," said Joseph DiGiuseppe, assistant city solicitor. The bar must also keep up with current assessments as they become due. If it falls short, DiGiuseppe said, "the Bent Elbow shuts down permanently."
On Friday afternoon, as happy hour started, city and state officials led a trail of reporters and television cameramen to the bar at 7700 Roosevelt Blvd. in Rhawnhurt. The officials slapped cease-and-desist orders on two doors of the bar, kicking out 30 patrons and turning away scores more.
City officials had pulled the licenses because of the tax bill owed by the bar, according to Frank Antico, director of business regulatory enforcement for L&I. They were able to proceed following a U.S. bankruptcy judge's dismissal of the owner's petition seeking protection from creditors.
Sheriff's Department deputies accompanied the city officials Friday and executed a judgment against the saloon, placing a lien on $63,000 worth of cash, liquor, furnishings and the liquor license.
Over the weekend, Richard L. Hahn, an attorney for the tavern, arranged for a court hearing, arguing that his client's right to due process had been violated. The bar should have been able to argue its case in front of a judge or the L&I Review Board before being shut down for owing money, he said in an interview yesterday.
Senior Common Pleas Court Judge Armand Della Porta brought the parties together Monday and yesterday mornings in his chambers and before he could rule, they settled.
The Bent Elbow, owned since 1979 by Joseph Murphy Inc., is a popular nightspot for young men and women. Friday night, doormen were asking patrons to pay $10 for four hours of open bar and buffet.
The place is not popular in the neighborhood, however. Those who live near Roosevelt Boulevard near Napfle Street have long complained about noisy patrons who block their driveways, urinate and fornicate on their lawns and curse anyone who objects.
"At least the neighbors had a quiet weekend," said Assistant City Solicitor Joe Schmanek.
The bar has a lengthy record of citations from the State Police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement - 12 citations are either proven or under appeal.
The current liquor license for the tavern has been revoked, though that ruling is on appeal. The bar has been allowed to stay open on a temporary license.
In November 1991, an administrative law judge revoked the tavern's license
because the bar allegedly falsified applications for health licenses, then operated without one.
The bar promptly appealed that decision and the case was sent to Common Pleas Court Judge Edward Bradley.
Bradley has yet to rule on the case, in which hearings were held in June.