Barry’s bar to hold onto its liquor license but pay $5,000 fine after underage violation

Lincoln sports bar Barry’s won’t lose its liquor license, despite repeated violations in recent years, the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission decided Wednesday.

At a hearing in Lincoln, commissioners decided instead to impose disciplinary actions on the owners of Barry’s Bar & Grill.

The owners of the sports bar popular on Husker game days agreed to pay a $5,000 fine in lieu of a 50-day suspension. Barry’s also must end bottle service, which allows a customer to buy an entire bottle of liquor. In addition, the bar must obtain advance approval of social media promotions and submit plans for increased security.

“I’m going to tell you, I’m not being nice over this. We’re going to tear this apart bit by bit,” said Robert Batt, the commission’s chairman. “If you guys think you get a free ride, you’re wrong.”

He said if either of the two most recent incidents had involved violence, he would have moved to revoke the bar’s license. The action came after a hearing last month over two allegations that Barry’s had served clearly intoxicated patrons on Sept. 23, a Husker football game day.

Assistant Attorney General Milissa Johnson-Wiles recommended the state cancel Barry’s liquor license.

Barry’s, on Ninth and Q Streets, is a hot spot, particularly on game days, and it’s had multiple other violations in the past five years.

Hobert Rupe, the commission’s executive director, said the bar has been making the right steps with increased security, but their business model of targeting young, inexperienced drinkers through promotions for cheap drinks is a problem.

“We were very disappointed in the finding of guilt, but not the sentence. The sentence was fair,” said Barry’s attorney Mike Kelley. He said in his opinion, investigators could not prove bar employees knew the individual was intoxicated before they served him last September.