Columbus officials have issued a citation to German Village bar and restaurant Wunderbar for violating zoning rules by allowing live entertainment too close to St. Mary Catholic Church and school.
Since Wunderbar, 739 S. 3rd St., opened in April in the former space of Max & Erma's restaurant, it has presented live music, karaoke and trivia nights and, recently, drag bingo and a drag review.
On Feb. 10, a Wunderbar subcontractor caused a social media stir after putting a post on the Facebook page of local drag star Nina West, alleging a neighbor and the German Village Society had launched a campaign against the business.
"They do not think drag is appropriate," the post said. "Silencing the LGBTQ community is not what I believe our city is about."
The post since has been removed.
Delilah Lopez, executive director of the German Village Society, said social-media criticism that her group does not support the LGBTQ community is unfounded.
"The bar is just trying to create smoke and mirrors. They are operating a business entertainment lineup illegally," said Lopez, who said neighbors have complained about noise and littering.
The Columbus code-enforcement office Jan. 28 issued a violation against Wunderbar for operating a cabaret within 500 feet of a public or parochial school or a religious facility -- in this case, St. Mary at 684 S. Third St., and the adjacent school.
The city's definition of a cabaret is "... a nightclub, or restaurant where performers dance, sing, or engage in plays for patrons."
As to the allegations of opposing drag shows, Lopez wrote in a letter: "The German Village Society stands proudly on the shoulders of Columbus LGBTQ+ trailblazers Fred Holdridge and Howard Burns, who built our historic district and our organization to create what they lovingly referred to as Columbus' first 'Gayborhood' -- a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to live, work and play."
Wunderbar general manager Jason Saad said: "At Wunderbar, we did our best to create an inclusive space for everyone.
"And it's unfortunate at the end of the day that some of our neighbors feel the need to rally the community behind them to shut down Wunderbar."
Wunderbar property manager Evan Fracasso said the business is deciding whether to request a zoning variance with the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment and pursue "any and all legal options that may be at our disposal."
Leslie Weilbacher, who lives across the street from Wunderbar and along with other neighbors complained to the city, said live entertainment does not belong in a residential area.
"There is a delicate balance," said Weilbacher, who said the content of the shows is not a concern.
Lopez said Wunderbar refused to approve a good-neighbor agreement last year.
Neighbors complained about Wunderbar at a January meeting of the German Village Society, Lopez said. They then submitted complaints through the city's 311 system.