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4 bars in Columbia's Five Points closed amid alcohol license disputes

Pavlov's (copy)

Pavlov's bar in Columbia's Five Points is one of two that have been closed by state enforcement actions. File/Adam Benson/Staff

COLUMBIA — Four bars in the midst of the growing battle over liquor licenses in Five Points have been closed by the state authorities.

Both Pavlov's and Moosehead Saloon have been closed until court hearings can be held to hear their renewal cases, said Sen. Dick Harpootlian, the Columbia Democrat who has been pushing to close what he considers bars that recklessly serve underage drinkers.

The action is a sign the state Department of Revenue, which oversees liquor licenses, is getting more aggressive against bars that don't follow the law, Harpootlian said.

"I am tickled pink," Harpootlian said.

Moosehead has been shuttered by its owners and is for sale, said Columbia attorney John Alphin, who has been representing the bar. That makes six bars in Five Points that have closed for good as a result of pressure mounted by neighbors and the University of South Carolina since 2019.

The department's order to block service at Moosehead cites numerous occasions when law enforcement found underage minors had alcohol in the bar, including dozens of cases while the saloon has been appealing its license case, according to a Revenue document filed March 30.

The two side-by-side bars called Breakers and Breakers Live on Harden Street have closed because Revenue refused to extend a temporary liquor license for its new owners, said Joe McCullough, an attorney representing them. 

The S.C. Administrative Law Court has upheld that refusal of a temporary extension, with a hearing on the license case still to come.

Pavlov's is closed for two months as part of an arrangement with the state revenue agency to settle one outstanding issue, said McCullough, who also represents that bar.

McCulloch said Pavlov's, Breakers and Breakers Live are still appealing their liquor license renewals.

Harpootlian expects more enforcement actions against bars in Five Points. The business models for many of those clubs don't work without selling to underage customers, he said.

The four bars are among the 11 that are awaiting court hearings to get their liquor licenses renewed.

Pavlov's and Moosehead also were among the four bars that faced legal protests from the USC in their license renewals. 

The bars drew protests because they too often served underage drinkers, served no food and had aggressive promotions that encouraged dangerous consumption, according to university spokesman Jeff Stensland.

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