UPDATED – Doc Howard’s Lounge is losing its Old Town lease at 252 N. Mosley.
That much is clear, but not much else is.
When initially contacted about the situation on March 5, owner Bryan Shapiro said he no longer owns the business and referred calls to the new owner, which he said is his brother, Keith, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Early afternoon on March 6, building owner Dave Burk said the Doc Howard’s lease is expiring at the end of the month and that he chose not to allow the business to renew it.
The bar has been a lightning rod for critics due to violence and other issues in and around it.
It sounds like there’s a chance the business is reopening elsewhere in Old Town, but Bryan Shapiro said he didn’t have any information about it.
Burk said he’s still considering what to do with the 26,000 square feet Doc Howard’s is leaving.
“Well, I can’t tell you for sure what I’m going to do with it. I’ve got some ideas,” he said. “I just know what I’m not going to do with it.”
That means, Burk says, the space “isn’t going to be a large bar with a lot of capacity.”
He says it’s possible the area could be divided.
“It’s something I’m looking at.”
Keith Shapiro called later to say he’s not the owner of the business. He wouldn’t say what his role is.
“I can’t tell you anything other than we have other plans for this building with Dave Burk,” Keith Shapiro said. “We’re reconcepting and doing something different with this whole building itself.”
He further said, “There is nothing happening with the business. We are doing other things.”
In a follow-up call with Bryan Shapiro, he said he forgot that he is the owner of the business.
“I’m just mentally retarded,” he said. “We got a lot going on.”
He said the company that owns the business is Two Brothers Group, and he is president of it.
Bryan Shapiro said no one told him the Doc Howard’s lease wouldn’t be renewed.
“That’s the first I’m hearing of it.”
He also, though, said there are changes under way.
“The place is being renovated,” he said. “There’s going to be some other things going in over there.”
What kinds of things?
“Possibilities are endless.”
So is Doc Howard’s moving?
Bryan Shapiro said he’s not moving anything but “possibilities in that building are endless.”
He said he can see how the situation might sound confusing.
“Right now I just don’t even want to discuss (it),” he said. “We’ve got something going on over there, something in that building. There’s going to be some renovations and some moving around of stuff.”
He added, “There is no lease being lost, and that’s all I’m going to say, and I can’t talk about it anymore.”
In a second call with Burk, he said he stands by what he said about not renewing the lease.
“I’m not going to comment further.”
City officials have previously taken an interest in what’s happening at Doc Howard’s, but it doesn’t sound like most – if any – are aware of what may or may not be happening now.
“Dave Burk is the only person who can tell you something about that,” Mayor Carl Brewer said. “All I ever want is citizens to go someplace and entertain themselves and be in a safe environment.”
He said whether Doc Howard’s remains open isn’t the issue.
“I really don’t have an opinion about it one way or the other.”