‘We didn’t get Plan A, so you go to Plan B’: Callaways continue plan for Latin dance bar after City Council denies special permit

Callaways

Nancy Callaway, left, and Keith Callaway talk with the local media after Tuesday's Quincy City Council meeting. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council concurred during its Tuesday night meeting with the Plan Commission’s denial of a special permit to allow Nancy and Keith Callaway to operate a nightclub at 428 Maine. 

That decision won’t stop the Callaways from their plans to open an upscale Latin dance bar and restaurant in the Granite Bank Gallery.

“The bottom line is we still have an opportunity to open up the dance club, and we’ll be serving alcohol,” Keith Callaway said after the meeting. “We didn’t get Plan A, so you go to Plan B.”

Mayor Mike Troup explained that City Clerk Laura Oakman can grant a permit for an establishment to have live music until 1 a.m. The permits are renewed annually. The city also has six nightclub permits (five already are spoken for) allowing an establishment to stay open until 3 a.m.

“When the Callaways came in, they wanted a nightclub license,” Troup explained. “They said they really weren’t too interested in the late-night hours, and they would be fine with staying open until one. Well, (Quincy Police) Chief (Adam) Yates took a look at it with legal after we tabled it two weeks ago, and he said we don’t need to change the nightclub license. What we need to do is refer people to the clerk to get the live entertainment license, and you get that for a year at a time.” 

So the Callaways will apply for the live entertainment license. They plan to open 428 Nightclub (yes, they’re calling it a nightclub though it technically isn’t per city ordinance) this summer.

“Even though the permit is for a bar, the city is saying we can name it whatever we want,” Nancy Callaway said with a grin.

“We really don’t need a nightclub license,” Keith Callaway told the City Council. “You guys had other options for us, which is kind of the way we want to go. Thank you for your work and for being there for us.”

Attorney Kevin Bross with Schmiedeskamp, Robertson, Neu and Mitchell spoke on behalf of several downtown businesses — Mercantile Bank, the Western Catholic Union, Schuecking’s Men’s Wear and the Eells House. He said the business owners were concerned about the location of the nightclub. He noted that a stabbing and a shooting have happened in the past eight months near The Q, formerly known as Port’s Place, 510 Jersey, one block from the Callaways’ business.

“There are certainly problems that come with any bar or liquor-selling establishment, but those problems will be exacerbated as the evening goes on,” Bross said.

Bret Austin, who owns several downtown properties, urged the City Council to look at what he called “inconsistency and conflicts” in ordinances.

“I’ve learned that I need a live music permit for my beer garden coming up, so I will be happy to apply for that,” he said. “But we don’t really have a clear review process, and we need to work to modernize these ordinances. 

“I would also ask that we use our partners and communicate our goals better. We need to bring our groups together like The District, GREDF (Great River Economic Development Foundation) and the Chamber (of Commerce), and we need to discuss what we want and what we don’t want for our downtown, or we’re going to keep finding ourselves in this position. Quite honestly, we probably wouldn’t even be here discussing this if we had more consistent codes and we had sat down together beforehand.”

Austin agreed the special permit should have been denied by aldermen, but he said the Callaways have a “fantastic business model” that the downtown business area should welcome. 

“I think we have a lack of understanding for multiple parties,” he said. “So let’s work together. The city has a partner organization in The District that can help so we can dedicate time to strategize together. We need to look at our review process so we don’t end up here again and again. We do most certainly want their business downtown, but there’s not a clear understanding from them of the impact of late-night business hours. As neighboring owners, our promise is that we will work with (the Callaways) to help them in whatever way they need to open their business.”

Nancy Callaway, who owns her own construction business, says renovations at 428 Maine will continue throughout the winter and spring. 

Aldermen met in closed session, then voted to approve a resolution allowing the execution of a grievance settlement agreement with Firefighters Local 63. The vote was 9-1. Jeff Bergman (R-2) voted no. Greg Fletcher (R-1) abstained. Mike Farha (R-4), Tony Sassen (R-4) and Mike Rein (R-5) were marked absent for the vote, even though Farha and Rein both attended the regular City Council meeting and were in the room for the closed session.

Aldermen learned of the grievance two weeks ago when a resolution was presented to pay Quincy Medical Group $60,000 for medical care. Local 63’s contract says it must be informed before changes in benefits are made. The medical care previously was covered by the city’s health clinic but then was removed from benefits because it offered services duplicated in the city’s new insurance plan.

The QMG contract covers employee copays for primary and ambulatory care.

In other action, aldermen: 

  • Gave permission to Quincy Firefighters Local 63 to conduct a raffle through Jan. 15, 2025.
  • Gave permission to Gateway Pyrotechnic Displays, LLC to have a pyrotechnics/fireworks display on Feb. 17 during the Hairball concert at the Oakley-Lindsay Civic Center. 
  • Approved Troup’s appointments of Jake Reed (R-6) to the BET on Q Committee, Glen Ebbing (R-5) to the Technology Committee and Ken Hultz (R-3) to the Fire Aldermanic Committee and Small Rental Rehabilitation Program Committee.
  • Received an update about the city’s plans for handling an influx of immigrants should buses from the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas arrive in the Gem City. Troup said he’s had several meetings with social service agencies — the United Way, Salvation Army, YMCA and Red Cross. “We’ve got a plan that’s probably 90 percent completed,” he said. “If something happens, we can do it. … I can’t say that I’m ready if something happens at 2 a.m., but at least we’ve got some phone numbers for who we’re going to call. I don’t think we’re going to have a major issue.”

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