INDIANAPOLIS — Facing a challenged liquor license renewal hearing next month and under pressure from IMPD, alcohol beverage licensing authorities and unruly patrons, the owner of Tiki Bob’s has closed his troubled downtown bar.
Jason Stellema, who did not return a phone call for comment today, posted a social media message Monday night that read in part, “Sadly I no longer have the desire to be deemed responsible for the abhorrent behavior of a minute segment of our society…I refuse to be the scapegoat for the violent crime plaguing the beautiful city of Indianapolis any longer.”
When Tiki Bob’s was placed under state monitoring from 2019 to 2021, IMPD reported responding to the location 104 times on various runs, though Stellema had claimed in the past that his bar’s address was referenced even when the problems were outside in the 200 block of South Meridian Street.
Last year IMPD homicide detectives investigated the overdose deaths of two women who died after meeting a man and drinking at Tiki Bob’s and police say the problems continued up until the final closing time at the bar this past weekend.
”We had a number of females who were arrested for fighting in the club in November of 2022 and they were underage,” said IMPD Captain Chris Boomershine, “and then there was an incident this past Sunday where allegedly there were two males underage inside the bar and they were involved in a shots fired incident and were subsequently arrested by downtown district officers.”
Boomershine said it took concerted IMPD efforts and joint investigations with State Excise Police plus hearings before the Alcohol Beverage Board of Marion County and the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission at the state level to finally bring enough pressure to convince the owner of Tiki Bob’s to close a bar that couldn’t be brought up to local and state public safety and liquor sales standards.
”There have been violations of Indiana Code, there have been fights and disturbances, things of that nature, that have caused us to take the position to remonstrate against the license, and we were planning to remonstrate against them again and the ownership decided to close the club,” he said. ”I believe the message it sends is that we’re making progress. Downtown has always been a safe place to go but it’s improving and we’re doing everything in our part to insure that improvements continue, that it’s a safe place for people to come down and enjoy their time in downtown Indianapolis.”
Boomershine admitted IMPD fears that the recent closures of Tiki Bob’s and Taps & Dolls, another troubled bar, will send unruly patrons to other establishments.
”When we see problem locations close our concern is, where will they go next and how will that location manage the crowd? We hope that the ownership and the leadership and the managers at those locations will do what it takes to maintain a safe environment,” he said. ”You need to review your business plan and have a good business plan. You have to have good security in place. You have to intervene in problems inside of your premises early. You cannot let a minor argument go unchecked. If people are already drinking and losing control of their temper, its time to go before it ends up in being a major confrontation. Get ahead of your problems early would be my best advice to bar managers, bar owners and employees. If somebody is appearing to be drunk, don’t serve him that next drink. Ask them to leave.”
Boomershine said investigators will also monitor other downtown bars where trouble has erupted.
The former Taps & Dolls site near Tiki Bob’s is undergoing renovations to be opened in mid-April as Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux.