Wrightsville Beach bar and nightclub Red Dogs is under new ownership after the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) commission approved the permit application last week, marking a transfer of ownership of the establishment at 5 N. Lumina Ave. Unit B that for years fought the town over permitting.
The ABC commission approved a temporary permit for Jimmy Gilleece, currently the owner of Jimmy’s at Red Dogs, to operate the upstairs Red Dogs, which had been operated by Charlie Maultsby since 1975.
The ABC commission approved the permit for Gilleece on Dec. 6, despite objections from the town’s police chief Dan House, who cited several incidents over the course of five years in the town’s filing with the commission.
Gilleece said he was excited about the opportunity that owning Red Dogs offers.
“We’re keeping the current staff and incorporating them with the Jimmy’s staff,” Gilleece said. “We’ve added a new camera system and we’ve been working with [North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement] and they say we’ve been doing a good job. We’re not going to serve drunk people.”
Gilleece said he will look to bring new events to Red Dogs, which is mainly known for its young, late-night crowd and club music. One idea is to bring a night of shag music dancing to the upstairs dance floor, as well as host more live music acts there, he said.
Gilleece’s Red Dogs permit has only a temporary status, expiring on June 24, 2017, if not renewed before then. But Agnes Stevens, public affairs director for the ABC commission, said that permits are often issued on a temporary basis. Under a temporary permit, the ABC commission could issue a suspension for a violation without providing the permit holder with a hearing.
“The ABC commission is supposed to take town zoning into consideration and in this instance, we don’t believe they did,” said Tim Owens, Wrightsville Beach town manager.
Owens said the town’s objections go back to its original disagreement with the establishment, arguing that operating a “private club,” designated to bars that serve drinks without offering food, violates the town’s zoning. The town brought that case against Maultsby in 2000, with the New Hanover Superior court ruling in Maultsby’s favor in 2002.
Earlier this year, Maultsby overcame the town’s objection to his permit renewal application when he was able to renew an older permit, rather than face a potential 10-day shutdown while the ABC commission investigated the board of aldermen’s unanimous opposition in December 2015 to the permit renewal.
The ABC commission recently approved another permit change for Wrightsville Beach over the objections of the town, which also argued that under town zoning laws, Palm Room wasn’t permitted to operate as a private club at its 11 E Salisbury St. location. On July 13, the ABC commission approved a temporary permit for Katherine Melton Kafer and Curt Eric Pryor to operate Palm Room, transferring ownership from Charles McLeod.