LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A Lawton bar is fighting to stay open after the city denied its permit to sell beer. The Creekside Lounge on Cache Road is preparing for a hearing to prove to the city that they are trying to make the bar safer, even after numerous incidents which prompted calls to the police, public nuisance letters from the city, and being put on the Fort Sill off-limits list.
The owner Pyong McFarlin said she was disappointed the permit was denied. She said she has been in the bar business for 38 years, and has never had this hard of a time keeping her patrons safe. She said if the upcoming hearing doesn't go in her favor, she could end up closing Creekside's doors.
"I definitely want them to see that we are trying, that we're going to do better and that we are going to make it a better place, and that we are not going to be a public nuisance," said Creekside Lounge Manager Holla Williams.
Williams says after one of the scariest nights she has experienced at the bar on Halloween last year where a large fight broke out in the parking lot and someone was injured after getting shot, she and the bar's staff got together to figure out what they had to change to prevent this from happening again.
"That was one of the big ones for me," said Williams. "I've never seen anything like that."
Since then they have hired another bouncer, and have been letting people out of the bar at the end of a Friday or Saturday night in groups.
"If we make everybody try to leave at once or if everybody starts to leave at once then it always kind of leads to an issue," said Williams.
Williams says because of a death in the owner's family the tavern permit that they need to sell beer expired. When they went to renew it, the city denied the request because they felt the bar did not fix the issues that were listed in public nuisance letters from 2010 and 2014.
If after the hearing, the denial of the permit stands, then according to city code, the owner will have to wait 12 months before reapplying. That could shut down the bar and employees could be out of a job.
"For most of us this is our only source of income," said Williams. "I mean I think there is one person here that has a second job, but for the most of everybody this is how we take care of our families."
The owner also told me that being put on the Fort Sill off-limits list does really hurt their business. So they are not only working on proving to the city they can operate safely, but also to Fort Sill. The hearing for Creekside Lounge will be held March 2. A judge will rule whether to approve or deny their application for the permit.