Papa’s Pub in downtown White Center: ‘Closed for good’
(October 2011 photo by Deanie Schwarz)
Three and a half months after the “Center of Attention” raids in White Center focused on Papa’s Pub and a few other establishments, Papa’s has handwritten signs up this afternoon saying it’s closed, and the windows are all papered over:
(Next two photos taken today by Patrick Sand)
Closer look at one of the signs, both of which say the same thing:
About an hour and a half ago, the mournful tones of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” – and its hook, “We could have had it all …” – could be heard blasting from inside.
Just last week, King County Sheriff’s Office White Center Storefront Deputy BJ Myers told the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (WCN coverage here) that a new round of problems at Papa’s had led him to confer with the Liquor Control Board, and that he was under the impression penalties ordered for Papa’s because of violations might kick in soon. We have messages out to the WSLCB to ask about its status.
ADDED 5:13 PM: Deanie Schwarz talked with Papa’s owners this afternoon. Though we don’t have official information from the LCB yet – probably tomorrow, they tell us – Richard Bienhoff told Deanie that he has a hearing before the LCB next Monday and Tuesday (February 13-14). According to Bienhoff, the closure is a complex situation – he’s being evicted, after falling four months behind in rent ($20,000), but he also contends the space is not usable because of leaking sewer lines he claims the owner won’t fix.
His relatively new business partner Mark Weatherhoge says they are looking for someplace else in White Center to start fresh – under a different name. He said last night was the final night for Papa’s.
Of the LCB and law-enforcement troubles, Weatherhoge told Deanie, “One of the bartenders got written up for serving a minor a couple of times – same bartender. We’ve got a couple of tickets for over-service. King County police says we’re nothing but drug-infested and all that, but when they came in and raided us with 25 police with guns out, they found nothing – no guns, no drugs. So ever since their raid of a dog and pony show here, business went right down the tubes. We lost all our good customers – it scared them and it scared me too. They came in at 1:00 in the afternoon when all of our normal good folk were here. But the problems happen late at night – that we’ve been working on…”
Bienhoff echoed the complaint about the October raids’ subsequent effect on business:”When 25 cops come in and point guns at all my good customers nobody wants to come back. I wouldn’t come in here if I didn’t own it. They ruined my business and I didn’t see any dope. They didn’t find nothing. And then they have come back a week ago and said I was manufacturing drugs in the basement.” He says he got a letter from the King County Sheriff’s Office making that allegation.
And he continues to contend he has done nothing wrong. “I got a raw deal here. The whole neighborhood hates me now. I have tried to do everything they told me to do. I got security … I did everything. I did this three years ago. When the cops come in here and tell me I’ve got drugs in my bar, why don’t they arrest them? They told me they can’t? That don’t make sense to me. … Drugs ain’t going to go away. Drugs are everywhere. I don’t want them. I don’t know anything about them. But what could I do about them? Nothing. They weren’t looking for drug dealers – they were looking for things I was doing …They steered all of my customers away – which is rotten.”
Weatherhoge reiterated, “We are trying to fix the problem, but everyone tries to put us down as though we are the problem. That isn’t fair.”
Bienhoff said: “We’ve done more for this community than any place. I do dinners for the homeless. I do breast cancer events because my wife died of breast cancer. I do every good thing and everybody hates me now. And I’m pissed. I ain’t done nothing wrong.”
In addition to following up with the Liquor Control Board, we will also be following up tomorrow with authorities to see the status of the investigations related to the October raids.
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