Council denies O-Face’s liquor license application
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Council denies O-Face’s liquor license application

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The Council Bluffs City Council on a 3 to 2 vote Monday evening recommended denial of the liquor license for the bar recently seen on the reality television show, “Bar Rescue.”

The annual vote on renewing the liquor license for the O-Face Bar, 2400 Ninth Ave., was on the council agenda, along with other bars.

Council members Nate Watson, Al Ringgenberg and Lynne Branigan voted for the recommendation to deny the liquor license. Councilwomen Melissa Head and Sharon White opposed the recommendation, which will now go to the state’s liquor commission for the final vote.

Of the seven applications given to the council for approval, the O-Face Bar’s was the only one that ended with a recommendation to deny.

“Bar Rescue” is a reality series shown on Spike TV. It features food and beverage industry consultant Jon Taffer and other experts offering  professional expertise to failing bars in order to save them from closing.

The three council members who opposed the continued liquor license, along with Mayor Matt Walsh, felt the show put Council Bluffs in a bad light.

“The city is also suffering as a result of this show,” Branigan said.

Walsh said he has received emails from around the country saying how the show was embarrassing for the city.

“I understand this is a reality show, but the depiction of this inaccuracy has caused irreparable harm to the city,” he told the owner, Matthew Overmyer.

“This sort of show concerns me that you would hold out this community in a false light,” Watson told Overmyer. “We all make mistakes, but we have to pay for them.”

Ringgenberg saw public safety hazards while viewing the show, he said.

“I had concerns from what I witnessed,” he said. “It showed the public put at risk. I have to err on the side of public safety.”

In response, Overmyer said, “I haven’t had any public safety issues. I have even taken people home when they had too much to drink.”

He himself has gotten bad feedback from people, even death threats, Overmyer said.

“It’s been nothing but hell,” he said, adding that he apologized for putting Council Bluffs in an unflattering light.

“It was not my intention,” he told the council.

Head and White, however, both said that health officials could not find any violations that would warrant a license denial.

After the vote, Overmyer said, “It’s TV. I would hope people would look past it, but some didn’t.”

He plans to appeal the council recommendation, Overmyer said.

Related to this story

With all the mentions of “Council Bluffs, Iowa,” dropped throughout Sunday night’s episode of “Bar Rescue,” it was hard not to associate this city – and, in turn, its residents – with the events broadcast nationwide.

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