Fireplay and public safety 

Ugly Monkey battle takes another turn

Ugly Monkey battle takes another turn
The fight for the future of the Ugly Monkey, 302 S. Meridian St. in Union Station, took another turn last week when its landlord, the City of Indianapolis, presented the bar with a second letter terminating its lease over an event that took place May 2. The city and the bar are already involved in a court battle over alleged lewd conduct at the bar, and this development resulted in the entire case being delayed until May 24.
 
Things got uglier for the Ugly Monkey after a worker set a fire there last week.

“There was kind of a ridiculous stunt pulled by one of the bartenders there, pouring alcohol on the bar and setting it on fire, apparently catching a patron’s hair on fire,” said Justin Ohlemiller, spokesman for the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission. “That’s another breach of the lease as well.”

According to the city’s letter, this is a separate violation that terminates the lease no matter what happens with the lewd conduct issue. The letter states that two laws were broken: utilizing open flame for entertainment without notifying the Fire Department and failing to obtain a permit from the state fire marshall.

“That may be an even bigger issue because it involves public safety,” Ohlemiller said.

Bob Garelick, attorney for the Ugly Monkey, presented a different view of the situation.

“Nobody was injured. That’s absolutely untrue,” Garelick said. “I’ve not yet spoken to the young woman who called the police, but she advised our office that she was not injured, that she didn’t want to cause any trouble for the Ugly Monkey and she’s sorry about the whole thing. But she was not burned.”

Garelick added that no matter the case, the letter was improperly sent.

“If it is a violation, the Ugly Monkey is entitled to notice of default and 20 days to cure, and they haven’t even sent us a notice of default, just a termination of lease. And the cure was to stop that activity which was sort of harmless and blown out of proportion,” Garelick said. “There were 30 or 40 firemen there at the time, so you can argue that the firemen were notified. This was during that big worldwide firemen’s convention.”

Garelick said he believes that the second letter shows the city is intent on evicting the Ugly Monkey no matter what.

“If the city didn’t want a bar in Union Station, they shouldn’t have rented it to them in the first place,” Garelick said. “I think they’re sorry they did it. But they’re bound to this lease, and we’re going to hold them to it.”

The case goes before circuit court Judge Theodore Sosin May 24 at 9 a.m. on the fifth floor of the City-County Building.

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