Permit used to run former Sunset Lounge in safekeeping

WARREN – The Ohio Department of Liquor Control has granted a request to put the liquor permit used at the former Sunset Lounge into safekeeping, a status that’s more restrictive than the one it had previously been kept in.

In safekeeping, the liquor control board ”has physical possession of the permit,” said agency spokesman Matt Mullins, and can be held by the state no longer than one renewal period, which can be as long as two years. The permit cannot be used while in safekeeping.

In the old holding pattern, called ”temporary closing authority,” the permit holder kept the permit, but agreed to stop operating for 180 days.

The state typically doesn’t allow permits to stay in safekeeping longer than a renewal period, except in the rare case when there is a pending transfer of ownership. When the period expires, the permit is canceled; it can be transferred or the holder can request to reopen, which would trigger state approval and inspections, Mullins said.

The safekeeping period was backdated to when the permit was first put into temporary closing authority, Jan. 2, 2013, Mullins said.

The Sunset Lounge has been closed since the beginning of 2013, when a man was shot to death at a New Year’s Eve celebration there. Permit holder Joseph Sankey’s Blue Magoo’s Ventures LLC placed the permit in the holding pattern soon after.

Sankey sold the building, which is now a church.