Owners of The GOAT in Carmel file petition to reverse zoning decision that shut down tavern

The Greatest of All Taverns, or The GOAT, was denied a use variance to continue its operations at 220 2nd St. SW. (IBJ Photo | Kurt Christian)

The owners of The GOAT restaurant and bar are asking a judge to reverse the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals decision that effectively closed the restaurant by denying it a zoning variance.

The Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals voted in late April to deny The Greatest of All Taverns’ request for zoning that would allow it to operate as a business on a residential property at 220 2nd St. SW.

The owners of The GOAT maintain in the petition that their request was consistent with the city’s development goals for the Midtown area. They also point out that other bars and restaurants are allowed to operate within a close proximity of the tavern.

The denial of the variance “was arbitrary and capricious,” the suit says.

“All we want is to operate our family’s business under the same rules as everyone else in Midtown Plaza, including our neighboring restaurants and taverns,” co-owner Kevin Paul said in a written statement. “Legal action is the last thing we prefer, but until this is resolved, our doors are closed and nearly 30 people are wondering how they will support themselves and their families.”

The GOAT was the subject of neighbor complaints after opening last summer, including concerns about noise and public indecency. City officials then realized that The GOAT was operating outside of the special variance that previously allowed Bub’s Cafe, which was not open at night, to operate on the same property.

The GOAT agreed in December to a set of mitigating commitments and received a temporary occupancy permit to continue operations as it sought a zoning variance that would permit the tavern.

When that process ended in denial on April 26, the restaurant was forced to close. The Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals voted against the variance request in a 4-1 vote.

“This is a whole mess. This should’ve never been allowed to happen. They never should have been allowed to open, and we’re being asked to legitimize a bad situation,” Alan Potasnik, the board’s president, said at the meeting. “This is an area that is residential, and a use that is not.”

On May 4, Paul filed the petition with the Hamilton County Superior Court for judicial review and to reverse the decision.

Paul pointed to other restaurants and bars in the neighborhood as evidence of The GOAT’s appropriateness in the area, listing several establishments currently serving food and alcohol within a quarter-mile of The GOAT.

The lawsuit also claims that the commitments requested by the city encouraged the tavern’s owners to spend over $1 million on renovations, fixtures and perishable inventory.

Kevin and Megan Paul, his wife, also own Blue Horseshoe, Brockway Public House and Danny Boy Beerworks in Carmel.

Part of the reason why neighbors encountered nuisance activities when The GOAT first opened, Kevin Paul said, is because he’s never experienced so much customer traffic at any of his restaurants within a month of opening.

“Other establishments were reeling from the pandemic, but The GOAT was overwhelmed with patrons, and this was before we had fully operationalized,” Paul said. “We did not anticipate the amount of patrons and honestly, we weren’t prepared for it. Our Midtown neighbors expressed concerns, and we worked hard to address every single issue.”

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17 thoughts on “Owners of The GOAT in Carmel file petition to reverse zoning decision that shut down tavern

  1. Well I am all for capitalism, they managed to slip in with a zoning variance and they were called on it. This is a shut and dry case if you ask me

  2. City needs to make this right – ridiculous they have screwed this up so bad and dragging a business owner under in their wake of not paying attention to what they approved – ALL on the city

  3. Wah, Wah, Wah, and boo hoo…. The GOAT’s idea of capitalism at it’s best. Make your neighbors suffer because you want to make money, but you were too stupid to investigate the rules before you invested, so just ditch the rules.

    1. Dan I’m not sure you understand Capitalism. That, or you just live in Hamilton County and practice “capitalism when it suits me”

    1. Same question. $1M? 😂. Pretty sure the place could be built; furnished, and stocked, for less than than, but it is a nice round number that sounds good in a press release

  4. The challenge continues that it is in the middle of several bars and restaurants…literally 1000 feet from tons of places but that specific corner is “residential?”

    Not very consistent and I foresee a legal battle which ends in settlement.

    Not to say The GOAT ownership kept control late nights and was a quiet neighbor which could have be mitigated the first evening open, but Carmel will have a hard legal battle if they go that route.

  5. There is a big difference in an establishment that serves breakfast and lunch and an establishment that serves alcohol and has clients that use people’s yards as restrooms. Sorry GOAT–doesn’t seem to me you did your part to be a good neighbor and I would NOT want you in my neighborhood. I would love to know the details about the “claims that the commitments requested by the city encouraged the tavern’s owners to spend over $1 million on renovations, fixtures and perishable inventory.” Other than adding adequate restrooms, I don’t know what renovations or perishable inventory would have fixed.

  6. The owners of the GOAT own two bars and a logistic business in Carmel. They should understand zoning requirements.

    The owners of the GOAT were originally going to be partners with the previous owners of the property who had the special variance to do breakfast only. They should have known what the restrictions are.

    DoCS who allegedly gave the approval doesn’t give zoning approvals, that is done by the BZA. The owners had to know that.

    How does a bar owner open a new Broad Ripple type bar with only one restroom?

    Brainard was seen frequenting the establishment (even without a mask) and had to know what was going on wasn’t legal.

    This sounds like the GOAT owners were counting on some under the table ok bypassing the legal process and got caught.

  7. Thoughts
    1. Experienced business owner should know zoning of the property didn’t match intended business
    2. Attorney for the business owner should have known same, if involved at that point
    3. City departments should have picked up the zoning/intent discrepancy
    4. Given the location literally across the street (diagonally) from another bar — and a restaurant/bar — seems hard to consider the GOAT site purely residential
    5. As I recall, there was initially noise complaint regarding Tank 13 in Village of West Clay, next to a white house there; so maybe the problem is locating a business next to houses that are white.
    6. Betraying my age a bit, but there’s no reason to be open til 3 AM especially when other businesses around you are not. That set the ball in motion for the complaints.
    7. Whoever heard of a bar with one bathroom?

    After the last BZA meeting with denial it seemed the logical next step was a lawsuit against the city. We’ll see how this plays out. Other option is to open a breakfast/lunch restaurant there. Bub’s Cafe was always busy, so might work again.

  8. As someone who lived above the Pint Room and had to listen to drunks sitting at the tables outside well after closing, the GOAT owner has a valid point. The neighborhood has a number of bars; what makes one corner special? Typical gentrification issue. People move in and want everything to change. If people wanted country solitude they should have moved to Westfield and not Carmel Town Center. These same new “neighbors” will be complaining about Carmelfest and probably try to shut that down too.

  9. As someone who lived above the Pint Room and had to listen to drunks sitting at the tables outside well after closing, the GOAT owner has a valid point. The neighborhood has a number of bars; what makes one corner special? Typical gentrification issue. People move in and want everything to change. If people wanted country solitude they should have moved to Westfield and not Carmel’s only neighborhood that is even close to urban living. These same new “neighbors” will be complaining about Carmelfest and probably try to shut that down too.

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