By Hannah Leyva
Red Dogs is currently without a permit to serve alcohol due to what the state Alcohol Law Enforcement calls a “violation,” but owner Jimmy Gilleece calls a “big misunderstanding.”
Gilleece, who owns Jimmy’s at Red Dogs in the unit below the private club, took over from long-time owner Charlie Maultsby last December. At the time, Gilleece was granted a temporary permit with an expiration date of June 24, 2017, by the North Carolina Alcohol Board Control commission, which the agency said was common practice.
On November of this year, the ABC commission informed Gilleece that his application for a new permit was “disapproved” due to “the character of the applicant.” The nightclub has been closed since Nov. 24.
According to a report prepared by North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement officers, Maultsby lost his ability to hold an ABC permit due to a felony conviction in August of 2016 and complied with the law by surrendering his permit to the ABC Commission.
However, during the course of an investigation conducted by ALE special agents this past September following Gilleece’s application for a new permit, investigators discovered that Maultsby’s address is listed as the mailing address for Black Dog Entertainment LLC, which is owned by Gilleece and is the entity used to run Red Dogs. ALE investigators found Maultsby’s address listed on the paperwork filled out by Black Dog Entertainment when they filed New Hanover County taxes this past year, and they also discovered his signature on the bank account used to run the business.
“Hugh Gilleece is listed as the owner of Red Dogs but all of [sic]contact information is for Maultsby, therefore all business correspondence pertaining to Red Dogs [sic]being sent to Maultsby instead of Gilleece,” the case report states.
According to Gilleece, however, there was a change in roles that was not made clear to the ABC Commission.
“They thought Charlie was involved [with the day-to-day business], but he was signed on as a paid consultant because he’s been in the bar business for 44 years,” said Gilleece. “He’s not involved in the alcohol sales. He’s involved with fixing the lights, getting the floors done, all those other things, but not the alcohol.”
This is not the first time Red Dogs has had issues with permitting. For years, they’ve battled with the town of Wrightsville Beach over issues regarding zoning ordinances. When Maultsby applied for a new ABC permit years ago, the town’s board of alderman voted not to recommend his application. During this current permit dispute, town manager Tim Owens said the town’s involvement was minimal.
“We cooperated with the ALE to get them all the information they asked for and complied with their investigation,” Owens said.
Maultsby was advised not to comment while the issue plays out in the courts. Gilleece said he’s already filed a petition to appeal the disapproval, and lawyers are working with the state to resolve the matter.
In the meantime, Gilleece said they’ve received an injunction that may allow them to open either this weekend or the following one.
“They [the ABC Commission]weren’t aware that we have Charlie as a paid consultant,” Gilleece said. “It’s just a matter of making them aware of that.”