Hilltop bar agrees to close early following two shootings in the past year
A Hilltop sports bar and the Columbus City Attorney's Office have agreed to close the bar early and add security following two shootings in July of last year and March of this year that killed two people and injured five others.
Cain's Sports Bar on Sullivant Avenue and the Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein agreed that the bar will stop serving alcohol at 1:30 a.m. and close at 2 a.m. A news release said the bar must also hire properly licensed security or off-duty Columbus police officers from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday to Sunday and reassess security staffing levels one year following the signing of the order.
Klein repeated a phrase he's said often in the past month as shootings happened outside businesses in the Short North and elsewhere in the city: "Guns and alcohol don't mix."
"With violence spilling out into the streets and threatening public safety, it was imperative that the city step in, hold bar owners accountable for this troubling behavior, and make sure they work with the experts at CPD and CFD to improve safety and security for patrons, employees and the surrounding neighborhood,” Klein said.
The temporary injunction lasts four weeks and the bar owners, operating under Cain's Sports Bar and Dremark LLC, will meet June 29 for a status conference on the order.
The agreement also requires the bar to allow full police and fire security assessments to determine future safety and security plans to protect public safety. Columbus police are now authorized to arrest all non-employees trespassing and loitering after the bar closes. Bar owners must also submit to CPD and CFD security assessments of the property and business operations.
Mark Gutentag, an attorney representing the bar owners, said the reason the bar stays open late is because it has a late night kitchen. He says the reduced hours likely won't have a detrimental impact on the business, but there isn't much more bars can do to reduce gun violence.
"You know unless they start putting TSA-type scanning at their doors, you know when you come in, how do you know who is going to pull their gun out and shoot somebody fighting over the last bag of fries," Gutentag said.
Gutentag said his clients also hope this action is able to reduce gun violence. Two people were shot and killed and two others were injured in a shooting at the bar in July 2022. In March 2023, three other people were shot following a fight outside the bar during late night hours.
"You know the city has to do whatever it's got to do. Zach Klein has to do whatever he has to do to keep the city safe along with the police. It's a juggling act," Gutentag said.
Gutentag said it is easier for the city to take this action than directly legislate gun ownership because certain permits and nuisance abatement laws and directly under the city's control. He claimed that the state, including Governor Mike DeWine are blocking the city of Columbus from enacting gun laws and allowing shootings to happen in Columbus and across the state.
"All this gun violence is going on when our governor says 'Here, you don't need a permit to carry a concealed carry. You don't need a permit to carry a gun. Go ahead and carry a gun or whatever you want. Carry an automatic weapon and we'll list it under the second amendment,'" Gutentag said.
Gutentag said his client intends to operate in the same fashion and keep their patrons and employees safe. He said his client hopes the only difference that is noticed is that there is a police car outside the business until 3 a.m.