The GOAT has closed its doors after the Carmel Board of Zoning appeals on April 26 denied a variance request that would have allowed it to operate in a residentially zoned area.
The tavern opened in July 2020 in a building at 220 2nd St. SW that previously housed Bub’s Cafe. The cafe had received a variance to operate in a residentially zoned area if it limited its hours to between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., but city officials said they inadvertently overlooked the conditional variance when they approved plans for the tavern. The site is the only parcel with residential zoning along the Monon Greenway in Carmel’s downtown and Midtown areas.
Kevin Paul, owner of The GOAT, did not respond to a request for comment on the BZA decision, but his attorney, Dave Coots, said Paul is “exploring alternatives” for the site. After the use variance was denied, Coots asked the BZA to vote on some of the other variance requests so they could be in place if the property is converted into a residence or other use. The BZA tabled a vote on the other requests.
The BZA decision is final at the city level, but Paul could take the matter to court and ask a judge to rule on the BZA’s actions.
City officials plan to monitor the site to ensure The GOAT abides by the BZA’s ruling, according to Dept. of Community Services Director Mike Hollibaugh.
“The city respect’s the Board of Zoning Appeals decision to deny the use variance for the GOAT,” he stated. “The Dept. of Community Services will monitor the situation and ensure compliance with the decision.”
Soon after The GOAT opened, city officials began receiving complaints from neighbors about loud noise late into the night, urination and vomiting on adjacent private property and other issues. In December, the city ordered The GOAT to abide by the previous variance and close by 2 p.m. daily but reversed course two days later, allowing the tavern to operate into the evening if it reduced its hours, provided security to prevent many of the recurring problems and agreed to several other measures.
Complaints from neighboring residents sharply decreased in recent months, but the majority of BZA members didn’t feel The GOAT had proven to be a good fit in the area.
“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,” BZA President Alan Potasnik said during the meeting.
In its staff report to the BZA, the city’s Dept. of Community Services recommended approval of the use variance for a six-month trial period as long as The GOAT ownership agreed to an updated set of commitments. After six months, the BZA would meet again to review the situation and determine next steps.
The updated commitments stated that The GOAT would be shut down if it violated a commitment and didn’t remedy it within 24 hours, and that if the occupancy limit was exceeded on more than one occasion, the tavern would be required to close immediately. It also stated that The GOAT must pay $5,000 per violation.
Paul told the BZA that he had agreed to the commitments. He said he had already gone to great lengths to address the problem and would take additional action if needed.
“If we think there’s something that will help, we’ll certainly invest the time, money and energy in accomplishing it, without question,” Paul said.
BZA member Leo Dierckman cast the lone vote in favor of the use variance. He said if The GOAT could prove it could follow the strict list of commitments for six months, it deserved to remain open.
“I don’t know if Kevin Paul will be back here in six months, because he may have elected at that point to already close the business,” Dierckman said. “(The commitments) are very serious, but they’re proper given the set of circumstances.”