Doc Howard’s Lounge temporarily closes due to lapsed liquor license

WICHITA — It looked like some critics of Doc Howard’s Lounge might get their wish to have the bar close.

The Old Town bar shut down this week because its liquor license expired Dec. 10.

“Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that will be excited,” says owner Bryan Shapiro.

The situation is only temporary, though.

The city won’t renew the license until Shapiro gets a fire door for an opening at the bar, which has frequently been in the news due to fights and other disturbances in and around the business.

Shapiro says it’s taking a while to get the door.

“We weren’t prepared for it because we’ve never been asked for it before,” he says. “Ten years, 10 inspections, nobody mentions the door. Now they mention the door?”

Doc Howard’s has been in business almost three years, but Shapiro has had a bar of some sort in the space for a decade.

“It is what it is, and we do everything we can to comply,” he says. “I don’t think we have an operational issue here.”

People are the issue, Shapiro says.

“They come downtown, they drink, they get silly,” he says. “It’s unfair to say we have more problems than anybody else. The mall has more problems than anybody else. Are we really talking about shutting the mall down?”

Shapiro says the bar’s capacity for 1,500 people and its proximity to parking, which other businesses use in addition to his, contribute to the amount of activity in his part of Old Town.

It’s not clear what day Doc Howard’s will reopen, but Shapiro says it should be soon.

He says Doc’s critics shouldn’t be so quick to wish the bar would close permanently.

“They need to remember if I go, somebody is going to take my place. People are not going to stop coming downtown.”