Steve Starrett wants to redeem the reputation of his bar, called Derby.

Steve Starrett wants to redeem the reputation of his bar, called Derby.

Grove City Council in December opposed a renewal of the bar's liquor permit on the recommendation of police chief Joe Wise and law director Stephen Smith.

In December, Smith said the more than 100 times in 2009 police were called to Derby, 2209 Stringtown Road, is "greatly disproportionate" to calls from similar establishments and has become a "significant drain on police resources."

The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has twice postponed a hearing for Derby's permit because the bar has made progress.

Meanwhile, police Capt. Steven Robinette said Starrett told police he wanted "to rectify this situation."

Starrett met once a month with police to listen to their input, Robinette said.

The first ODLC hearing was set in February. The city asked that it be postponed until March to allow time for Starrett to continue to reduce calls to the bar.

By March, the city again requested the hearing be postponed. The hearing is now scheduled for May 3, but it might not happen at all.

"Everything that I'm being told is that (Starrett) is being cooperative and the situation is getting better," Robinette said. "We're pretty pleased with his cooperation."

Robinette said Derby had problems with noise, drunks and fighting. He said police recommended Starrett turn down the music in the bar, monitor patrons' alcohol consumption and remove a piece of equipment that seemed a catalyst for fights.

Starrett said the equipment is an arcade game with a punching bag that measures the force of a strike. He said he has unplugged the game during weekends when more people patronize the bar.

He said he hired additional bartenders and put them all, including existing bartenders, through training at the division of liquor control that teaches bartenders to notice signs of intoxication.

Robinette said Starrett voluntarily registered with the Central Ohio Safe Ride Program, which offers taxi rides to those too drunk to drive.

Also, Starrett said an elderly woman, who lives behind Derby, called police almost every night, complaining about noise.

Starrett said he and the woman have agreed to move her to another apartment farther away from the bar. He wants to help cover the cost of her moving expenses, he said.

Robinette said police visits to the bar have decreased since December.

According to police records, 63 calls were made to Derby between December and April. Most of the calls, however, were labeled "bar check," which Robinette said is part of the agreement between Starrett and police; bartenders call police before possible trouble occurs. Of the 63 calls, only four were because of a fight. Another four were for drunks.

Wise said the bar had almost 80 fights during 2009, which was four times higher than the bar with the second highest number of fight calls.

Matt Mullins, spokesman for the division of liquor control, said it is common for objecting municipalities to withdraw hearing requests after working with troublesome permit holders.

Council president Ted Berry said he would follow the advice of Wise and Smith if they recommend council withdraw the permit objection.

"Everything's been copacetic and running good," Starrett said.

He added he never wanted Derby to become a "detriment to the community," the same community he's lived in all his life.

He added he donates to the local DARE program, youth sports and will hold a charity event at the bar next month.

"We want to be good for Grove City," Starrett said. "It's always been our goal to be an asset to the community."