WILKES-BARRE — Outsiders Bar and Restaurant, the scene of a deadly shooting early Sunday morning, had been operating while owner Louis Weibrecht challenges a decision by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board not to renew its liquor license.
The board’s decision of March 20 came after a hearing in December.
Michael Onley, 34, of Madison Street, Wilkes-Barre, was gunned down while he stood in the patio area of the tavern at 650 S. Main St. at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday. Onley was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where he died.
Onley was a popular disc jockey in the region known as DJ Mo. He had a show on Wilkes University’s radio station WCLH 90.7 FM every Tuesday afternoon and evening, according to the radio station’s website.
Police on Monday said they had no new information to release about the ongoing investigation. Police seized the tavern’s video surveillance system.
The tavern opened in 2003 when Weibrecht purchased the building he renovated. Known as a biker bar, the tavern hosts “Two-Wheel Tuesdays” for motorcycle enthusiasts and has Reggae nights on the weekend.
The building once housed Gordy’s Cukoo’s Nest, which was shut down by then-District Attorney Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. as a nuisance bar in 1994 after a series of disturbances, including a police-related shooting of Roland Kittrell in August of that year.
Kittrell was wanted for a sexual assault in Forty Fort. He suffered a gunshot wound to his hand during a melee with police inside the bar. Police Chief Gerard Dessoye, then a captain, suffered a fractured leg during the fight with Kittrell, according to The Times Leader archives.
The LCB decided not to renew the tavern’s liquor license, citing 23 violations since 2003. Weibrecht filed an appeal in Luzerne County Court on April 3, permitting the tavern to remain open for business.
According to the LCB’s opinion not to reissue the liquor license, the tavern had managerial problems,missing deadlines to pay fines for multiple citations and failing to timely submit its application to renew its liquor license. The tavern also did not maintain a “barred patrons list,” the opinion says.
The tavern paid $15,100 in fines and its liquor license was suspended for a total of 32 days since 2003, according to the opinion.
There were seven citations issued for loud noise for music that was heard beyond the property line, three citations for the purchase of alcohol with bad checks, and one citation each for serving a minor, serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron and serving alcohol when the license was suspended.
“The record provides ample evidence of (Outsiders) failure to take the appropriate steps to address its operational problems that have resulted in receiving at least one citation every year since 2003, and the Board finds that this alone provides sufficient reason to refuse (Outsiders) renewal application,” the LCB’s opinion states.
While the LCB’s opinion cites multiple liquor code violations, city police have been called to the tavern only once, on July 29, 2011, when three patrons became unruly after being told to leave for crashing a private party on the second floor of the building.
Attorney William Ruzzo, the tavern’s attorney, responded that no residents or commercial businesses in the neighborhood have filed formal complaints about loud music. A minor was served alcohol after she presented her sister’s driver’s license and the two sisters have similar appearance, Ruzzo said. He also said an employee was hired recently to oversee clerical and administrative operations.
Ruzzo noted the tavern has a “reputation among competitors and neighbors as an orderly, good neighbor and business.”
“Outsiders has offered its premises and resources to charitable and civic organizations, including fundraisers to raise money for seriously injured people and The Moses All-Star Classic, which is an annual basketball game raising thousands of dollars for local charities,” Ruzzo stated.
The tavern sponsored a bike run benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in July.
Weibrecht could not be reached for comment on Monday.