APPLETON, Wis. – After a regular Lingerie Night attendee at Wisconsin's Eager Beaver Bar was charged last week with attempting to kidnap a bartender, the weekly event was discontinued.
The bar's owner, Christina Coon, said Lingerie Night, at which bartenders served customers while dressed only in underwear, was stopped in light of allegations against Dennis L. Mitchell, 45, of Appleton.
Police said Mitchell ran up to the bartender as she walked to her vehicle on July 10 and tried to put a plastic bag over her head. When the woman yelled, neighbors approached the pair, and the man ran away.
Despite Coon's assurances that the incident was an isolated issue, one neighbor is calling for the bar to be shut down, citing frequent police calls and unruly crowds over the years.
Data obtained by Post-Crescent Media revealed that police were called to the bar more often than others in a similar location, or of a similar size.
In the days following Mitchell's arrest, the bar removed all traces of Lingerie Night from its Facebook page, including multiple photos of bartenders dressed in lingerie. Coon told Post-Crescent Media she did so in an effort to protect her employees.
"All the content has been removed for the safety of our bartenders, not to deny or to hide Lingerie Night," Coon said. "We are no longer having Lingerie Night, and that's really all there is to say about it."
'Eager to Close the Beaver'
In the four years Eager Beaver Bar has operated at 1400 W. Second St., Coon said there haven't been any incidents as serious as the attempted kidnapping.
"This was a one-time incident of a man who used poor judgment," she said.
The discontinuation of Lingerie Night is not enough for Ali Koestner, who lives three houses from the bar. Following Mitchell's initial court appearance last week, Koestner launched a Facebook page, "Eager to Close the Beaver," where she calls for the bar to be permanently shut down.
"I just think it's gone too far," she told Post-Crescent Media. "They've already established a reputation for what type of atmosphere the bar has, so I think it's got to be a drastic change."
Koestner said when she moved to West Second Street six years ago, the bar operated under a different name and had different owners.
"When I moved into the neighborhood, it was a quiet little local bar. Not a lot of riff-raff or loud noises," said Koestner, 28. "Since (Eager Beaver) came into the neighborhood, it's been getting progressively worse."
Coon said she believes the attack is personal, but added she is not concerned "at all" by Koestner's attempt to close the bar.
Koestner said her complaints of blaring music and street fights went unheeded by the bar owners, and when she spoke with Alderman Peter Stueck, he directed her to the police department. Now, she intends to start a petition to further her efforts.
"I want to be able to not worry about the clientele and other instances like this. I want to be able to sit on my front porch and not have to worry about listening to the bar," she said. "There's a general consensus with a majority of neighbors this isn't the kind of bar we want in our neighborhood."
Police calls under scrutiny
Since 2011, police have been called to Eager Beaver Bar 69 times, an average of one call every two weeks, according to a Post-Crescent Media analysis of Appleton police data. One-quarter of those calls resulted in arrests.
Seventeen calls over the past 3½ years were related to criminal offenses such as battery, disorderly conduct, underage drinking and thefts. The same number were for non-criminal issues like welfare checks, medical calls, traffic stops and assists.
Officers were called to Eager Beaver 34 times for ordinance violations, arrest warrants, noise complaints, harassment, disturbances and suspicious situations.
Police calls to Eager Beaver's address don't always involve the bar, Coon said. When there is an incident in the area without a specific address — such as a reckless driver or a disturbance in the street — dispatchers will list the bar as a landmark to guide officers.
"I asked the police personally why there were so many, and they said it's because it's a landmark spot," Coon said. "Once a girl was on her way home down the street and she was punched by another female. Instead of going home alone, she came back to the bar, and so police came to the bar."
Police calls to Eager Beaver are far fewer than some College Avenue bars. For example, in a single year, Luna Lounge and Anduzzi's each exceeded the number of police calls Eager Beaver received in 3½ years.
However, bars with similar capacities to Eager Beaver, which holds up to 82 people, had about half the average police calls per year. Carter's Caboose, located in the same block as Eager Beaver at 1428 W. Second St., has had eight police calls and one arrest since 2011.
"Carter's Caboose has always been down the street, and there has never been a problem with that establishment," Koestner said.
While the number of police calls to Eager Beaver has hovered around 20 each year, the number of arrests has increased from two in 2011 to nine in 2013.
Kidnapping case moves forward
During an appearance in Outagamie County court last week, Mitchell's bond was set at $50,000.
He is charged with attempted kidnapping, in addition to soliciting prostitution in a separate incident. If convicted, he faces more than 20 years in prison.
Mitchell is scheduled to return to court July 24 after requesting representation by a public defender.