Metro-East News

Tavern controversy at Carlyle Lake leads to Village Board member's resignation

The village hall and park in Keyesport.
The village hall and park in Keyesport.

Controversy surrounding a Carlyle Lake tavern has led to a public hearing and the resignation of at least one village official.

The Keys on Lake Carlyle is a bar and grill and live-music venue in Keyesport, on the shores of Carlyle Lake. The restaurant’s Facebook page posted Tuesday that the village of Keyesport is holding a hearing on Thursday to rescind the tavern’s liquor license.

“The mayor thinks he has evidence to pull our license,” the post read. “If we could all come together as a community an county and fight this, we … would truly appreciate it. We can’t thank you enough for all of the support we have had these past eight years, but we really need your help now.”

Mary Cox, co-owner of the Keys, confirmed that the hearing alleges that they served alcohol to a minor. However, she said she does not believe that happened. “I was here that evening, and we had people carding at the door and at the bar,” she said.

Mayor Carl Brechner, who is also the village liquor commissioner, could not be immediately reached for comment.

But former village trustee Robert Ford Sr. said he resigned from the Keyesport Village Board on Tuesday in disgust over what he called infighting and arguing, largely over this issue. He said former trustee Jim Edwards also resigned last month, but could not say whether it was over the controversy surrounding the Keys.

“The mayor said they were serving underage drinkers, which, if they were, I would support him all the way,” Ford said. But he said he was not aware of any charges or citations against the Keys, and Clinton County Sheriff Doug Maue confirmed that his department has not issued any citations for serving underage drinkers at the Keys in recent memory.

Cox said patrons and residents have been responding to her call for support, publicly and privately. They have hired a lawyer to represent them at the hearing, she said. “I would like to have all this resolved and for this town to get along like it used to,” she said. “Hopefully everyone stands by us, so we can continue to do what we do.”

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald