The Greatest of All Taverns’ latest attempt to reopen in Carmel has been put on hold so that the controversial bar’s owners can work with city staff to modify their rezoning request.
The Carmel Plan Commission voted Tuesday to table Tomahawk Holdings LLC’s petition for a rezoning of the property at 220 2nd St. SW, where The Greatest of All Taverns, known as The GOAT, (The GOAT) has been closed for the past five months. Kevin Paul, who co-owns the tavern with his wife, Megan, is looking to change the zoning from its current prohibitive residential designation to one that would allow the bar and restaurant to reopen.
“My goal this evening is to put the horse back before the cart,” Tony Paganelli, an attorney representing Tomahawk Holdings, said.
The GOAT opened in summer 2020 in the former Bub’s Cafe, a breakfast restaurant that had previously been granted a special use variance to operate during certain hours on the property, which sits between the Midtown neighborhood and businesses along the Monon Trail.
Neighbors almost immediately began complaining of unruly patron behavior at the bar, including public urination, late-night noise, trespassing and other nuisance activities.
The city, after reviewing the property’s zoning, realized it had overlooked the fact that the bar’s operations were outside of the special-use variances. The GOAT’s owners and the city agreed to temporary restrictions on the business’ operations meant to address the public nuisance issues, as well as physical improvements to the building to be made as the city considered rezoning the property to a C2/commercial designation.
The city eventually withdrew that rezoning petition, but continued with—and approved—a similar rezoning for the adjacent Carmel Clay Historical Society.
Paganelli said the action made it so The GOAT is the lone property along the Midtown section of the Monon Trail to not be zoned for commercial uses or as a planned unit development. As such, Tomahawk Holdings is petitioning its property be rezoned B2/business to allow for the tavern to resume operations after it was denied a use variance and shut down in April.
Several members of the public spoke in support of The GOAT, saying it brought variety to Midtown and that it was no different than other nearby restaurants that serve alcohol.
Paganelli said The GOAT admittedly had problems when it opened last summer due to the limited availability of bars that were open during the pandemic, but he suggested those matters could be addressed outside of zoning.
Jill Meisenheimer, on behalf of the Carmel Citizens for Responsible Zoning, spoke during public comment to say the rezoning wouldn’t improve the site.
“[The GOAT] has not been a good neighbor to its neighbors. If this rezone is approved, the neighbors will struggle to have any peace and quiet,” she said.
After hearing public comments for and against the proposal, commission members and city staff questioned whether a B7 designation might be more appropriate.
Carmel Planning Administrator Rachel Keesling said the B2 designation’s permitted uses are broader than what would work for the area. The designation would allow for operations such as a commercial kennel, a shooting gallery or an automobile service station, which she said wouldn’t be appropriate for the area.
The B7 designation could be more suitable, she said, because it allows for a variety of commercial uses near areas zoned or currently used for residential purposes.
“I’m not trying to delay this or kick the can down the road,” Kevin Rider, a plan commission member, said about the issue. “To be fair to everybody, it needs to come back.”