Reeb's gets new owner
Reeb's Sports Bar and Grill will be allowed to keep serving alcohol, now that a new owner has stepped up to buy the beleaguered business. Daniel Labernik submitted an application late Friday to take over the Reeb's liquor license at 1100 19th Ave. N.
Reeb's Sports Bar and Grill will be allowed to keep serving alcohol, now that a new owner has stepped up to buy the beleaguered business.
Daniel Labernik submitted an application late Friday to take over the Reeb's liquor license at 1100 19th Ave. N. in Fargo. Labernik, 41, plans to rename the bar Labby's.
Reeb's current owner Scott Alan Johnson, whose cocaine possession conviction put the bar's future in jeopardy, had until Saturday to find a new owner or be stripped of the liquor license.
That ultimatum was handed down last month by Fargo city commissioners who were responding to a recommendation by the city's Liquor Control Committee to revoke Johnson's license.
Labernik, 41, is a Fargo resident and has been employed at Congress Inc., a liquor wholesaler, since 1987, according to his application.
When contacted at home Monday, Labernik declined to comment on his job or on terms of the business deal, since the transfer is still pending.
The City Commission and police need to review and approve the transfer, as does the landlord, he said.
"I'm anxiously and eagerly awaiting approval," Labernik said Monday.
Part of the city's approval process includes a criminal background check to ensure Labernik is fit to hold a license. A search Monday turned up no criminal convictions.
A public hearing to approve the license transfer is scheduled for June 20 before city commissioners, according to City Auditor Steve Sprague.
Reeb's will continue to operate as usual until then.
If the transfer is approved, the business will remain as a restaurant and bar, and Labernik said he doesn't envision any major changes.
Johnson, who Labernik said is an acquaintance but not someone he knows personally, has been under city scrutiny since late last fall when he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession charges.
Though cocaine possession is a felony, North Dakota law states that felony convictions are misdemeanors when the sentence is a year or less. That was the case for Johnson.
He was caught on a surveillance camera last May snorting cocaine in the clothing department at Fargo's Fleet Farm. A report from the Cass County Drug Task Force indicates Johnson admitted to getting the cocaine from a patron at his bar.
Johnson, 40, also still faces eviction from the strip mall where Reeb's is located because of late rent payments and the drug conviction.
His February eviction hearing in Cass County District Court was continued with the idea that a transition plan would be forthcoming, said Jean Hannig, attorney for the property owner, Krantz Family Trust II.
Hannig said her client has not been a party to the business deal between Labernik and Johnson.
Reeb's has an "FA" liquor license, which means 50 percent or more of its annual gross receipts must come from food, not alcohol.
A new FA license in Fargo costs $100,000. In the case of a transfer, however, Labernik's fee to the city is $1,700.
Meanwhile, Johnson also is still in the process of trying to save Scott's Village West Liquors, 4101 13th Ave. S., a liquor store he owns with his wife, Debra.
The Johnson's were ordered last month to pay Western State Bank $430,000 or lose the store. The action was not related to the Reeb's situation.
Roger Minch, attorney handling collection for the bank, said Monday the Johnson's have been good customers and have promised to pay the bank.
Minch said he expects to hear from Johnson this week.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531