BATON ROUGE — Reggie’s Bar, a mainstay in the popular Tigerland area near LSU for more than two decades, had its liquor license revoked and will not reopen
At the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC hearing held Thursday), attorneys of both the ATC and Reggie’s agreed that the bar’s liquor license would be revoked and they would receive a $15,000 fine that is required to be paid within 90 days.
It was also determined that Reggie’s owner and manager Darin Adams would be permanently banned from managing, owning, or operating an establishment that serves alcohol in Louisiana.
“The business was before us on many violations, which ultimately led to a tragic set of circumstances,” Legier said after the hearing. “We felt like if it wasn’t for the irresponsible behavior on the part of this bar, it could have saved the life of Ms. Brooks. The issuance and acceptance of an alcohol permit is a privilege, it’s not a right. Our principal mission is to make sure that underage individuals don’t have access to alcohol. This business failed in this regard and it led to tragic circumstances.”
The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control suspended Reggie’s liquor license on January 23, citing a “threat to public safety” following the death of LSU sophomore Madison Brooks.
“We are very pleased that the ATC has imposed the death penalty on Reggie’s. It is essentially the death penalty,” said Kerry Miller, the attorney for Brooks’ mother, Ashley Baustert. “Permanent revocation of a liquor license is the most egregious regulatory enforcement action that can be taken and it is exactly appropriate in this circumstance. They are responsible for Madison Brooks’ death. We’re pleased with the outcome today.”
Miller said the family was confident the commission would make the right decision.
“We don’t know what Reggie’s was asking for,” Miller said. “To the extent that they were asking for anything, that’s a real shame and a tragedy in itself. They should have come in right away, given up their license, accepted responsibility and moved on but that’s not the kind of people we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with people who want to be involved in the liquor business making money, selling alcohol to underaged people. The commission noted that this establishment had a series of egregious violations. They never learned their lesson before. I don’t think they were going to learn their lesson until they got revoked. That is the lesson they needed to learn from this and hopefully, they’ll be a positive takeaway from other owners in the state of Louisiana from this situation.”
Following Brooks’ death, Louisiana Sen. Beth Mizell introduced the CARD ‘EM Act (Create Alcohol Responsibility & Deterrence).
The bill would synchronize Louisiana with the rest of the United States and ban anyone under the age of 21 from entering bars. Miller said Thursday that Brooks’ family fully supports the legislation.
Madison Brooks death investigation
Brooks was seen at Reggie’s Bar in Tigerland just before she was allegedly raped and fatally struck by a car on Burbank Dr. on January 15, according to investigators. The 19-year-old was illegally drinking at the bar for several hours before security cameras captured her stumbling out, detectives said.
Law enforcement says Brooks was allegedly raped twice before being dropped off in a subdivision, eventually wandering onto Burbank Dr. where she was hit by a car. The LSU sophomore was taken to the hospital, where she died.
Three teens and a 27-year-old are facing third-degree rape charges. An arrest warrant indicated that Brooks had a blood alcohol concentration of .319, which is four times the legal limit and considered alcohol poisoning. But for anyone under the age of 21, the legal BAC drops to 0.02, meaning Brooks’ BAC was nearly 16 times the limit for a teen. Her BAC level is also why law enforcement is saying she was allegedly raped, instead of the sex being consensual.
“Madison was a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece, a classmate, and a friend to many of you,” LSU President William Tate IV said in a statement. “By all accounts, she was an amazing young woman with limitless potential. She should not have been taken from us in this way. What happened to her was evil, and our legal system will parcel out justice.”
The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control issued an emergency suspension of Reggie’s liquor license just a few days after the incident.
“This action immediately suspends the service or sale of alcoholic beverages at this location,” ATC said in a statement. A hearing set for February was postponed until April.
History of problems
After Brooks’ death, Tate criticized Reggie’s and other bars near the university, specifically in Tigerland, for serving underage students alcohol. “All but one of the suspects involved in this horrific scenario were underage yet were able to consume alcohol at a local bar,” he said in a statement. “As such, our action plan starts with a deep and relentless focus on any establishment that profits off our students by providing alcohol to underage individuals.”
Reggie’s has been under investigation by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control before. In June 2017, nearly three dozen people were cited with underage drinking. The undercover bust involving Baton Rouge police, LSU police, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies, the Baton Rouge Fire Department, and ATC agents showed the bar was nearly double its allowed capacity.
The bar lost its liquor license for 45 days and was fined $8,000, a penalty many in the community saw as a mere slap on the wrist.
The bar has also been a hotspot for crime over the past two decades, including deadly shootings outside the bar, alleged rapes in the bar’s parking lot and stabbings, such as the one in 2016 involving LSU tight end Dillon Gordon.
In 2015, the bar faced criticism from students for what many felt was a discriminatory dress code. The bar banned overly baggy clothes, long t-shirts, all-white tennis shoes, hoodies, gym shorts and jean shorts. The bar’s owner defended its dress code, saying it was modeled after the dress code for EBR students.
“I feel like they’re just letting in a certain stereotype,” Paris Tate told the LSU Reveille in 2015.
What’s next for Tigerland?
With Reggie’s closing permanently, many are wondering what this will mean for Tigerland. It is unclear if another bar will open in Reggie’s place.
Brooks’ death has also put other nearby bars under scrutiny by law enforcement and the state ATC.
On Thursday, Miller admitted there is concern that Reggie’s being closed doesn’t prevent the next owner of the building from having similar practices.
“Hopefully a new owner, wouldn’t repeat the sins of the past owner,” he said. “It’s a building, it’s subject to lease. An owner can come in and apply for a liquor license. We’re hoping that if a new owner applies for a permit for a liquor license, this agency takes a hard look at who they are. If they have any indications like these owners have had, not issue the license. We’re hoping this commission has a memory for when a new license is applied for at that location or by anyone associated with Reggie’s at a different location in this state. We’re going to be on the lookout for that.”