The windows and door at the Pourhouse, a bar at 506 E. Wishkah St. in Aberdeen, are boarded up, and control of the building has reverted to the couple who own it and had the recent operator evicted.
A hearing to appeal the eviction is scheduled in Grays Harbor Superior Court next Monday at 8:30 a.m.
The bar has been closed since early May when the plaintiffs, Tyler Tollefson and Jade Lundy, who are married, sued to take the bar back from defendant Jake Cuzdey. Tollefson and Lundy purchased the bar a couple of years ago and remodeled it.
What started as a dispute over rent, back taxes and a liquor license has become an ongoing saga of accusations and on Sunday featured a peaceful protest on Wishkah Street, complete with men sporting rifles to protest on behalf of Cuzdey.
A double-sided chalkboard on the Wishkah sidewalk reflects the dispute.
Sunday afternoon, the chalkboard read “Corrupt Local Government” and “Thank you (Mayor Bill) Simpson and (Police Chief Bob) Torgerson for assistin (sic) THEFT” according to photos on the Pourhouse Facebook page, allegedly still controlled by Cuzdey. He has claimed bitterly that city officials and police have lined up against him.
Three unidentified men wear camouflage-style clothing and have rifles slung over their shoulders. One carries a sign that says “Honk for Freedom.”
Detective Sgt. Art Laur said Monday that since no complaints or calls were made to Aberdeen Police Department, police did not interfere or check whether the men had valid permits for the weapons. “They were exercising their constitutional right.” Carrying weapons openly in this state “is not a crime,” he added.
Guns are not allowed in places such as court rooms or federal buildings, Laur added.
As of 3 p.m. Monday, the chalkboard was rewritten to reflect the stance of the couple who own the building and had been leasing it to Cuzdey: “Saving the Pourhouse” and We heart (love) Our Mayor.” Black plastic trash bags were piled high in the back patio area. The couple and several friends were loading a few vehicles.
They referred comment to their lawyer. Erin Hillier, of Hillier, Scheibmeir, Vey & Kelly of Chehalis, but she did not respond to a message.
The dispute began shortly after Cuzdey signed a rental agreement, dated January 31, with Tollefson and Lundy. He agreed to pay $3,000 per month of which $2,000 could be used to purchase the building if he chose, the lease documents say. Cuzdey claims he had a verbal agreement to operate the place while he got financing in place.
Cuzdey claims the couple were enraged when he told them there were several tax warrants against the business and he had been ordered by the state to pay the liens rather than pay rent. The state Department of Revenue would not confirm or deny the order.
The department did confirm there are four liens against the corporate account for the Pourhouse for: $11,216.08, $4,500.48, $2,552.98 and $10,002.40. “I can’t share with you whether or not the business has made progress on paying its liens or made a payment plan with Revenue,” spokeswoman Kim Schmanke answered Tuesday. She can only report when liens are paid off.
Cuzdey claimed he paid the rent.
Two women allegedly punched Cuzdey and others in front of witnesses just after midnight on April 26 in a dispute over the bar. The misdemeanor case is in Municipal Court, Deputy Prosecutor Forest Worgum said.
Cuzdey claims police stood by on April 28 as the couple and others allegedly took items from the bar that Cuzdey says belong to him.Worgum said the dispute is a civil matter.
Complaints were also made on May 5 that Cuzdey was serving liquor without a proper license. State Liquor Control Board documents confirm Cuzdey’s checks to pay for assumption of the license were returned for insufficient funds and that Mayor Bill Simpson called the board to withdraw support for the license. Simpson reported the violation to police who were called to the tavern that night also regarding suspected disorderly conduct. No charges were filed. Cuzdey stopped selling liquor and closed the bar.
Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @DW_Erin