Delaware City Council has requested a hearing from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control on whether to approve a permit for a potential downtown business.
The council approved to have Liquor Control conduct the hearing in Columbus for Xue Gong Chen, a co-owner of the Flying Pig Ale House, 12 S. Sandusky St., in downtown. The state agency will make the final decision.
“We want your business; we just want it right,” said Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle at Monday’s meeting.
Chen applied in late September to transfer a D5 permit from Bosco Cafe LLC, 80 S. Sixth St., in Columbus to sell alcohol for consumption at its establishment. There were no available D5 permits in Delaware.
The hearing was recommended by Delaware police because of misrepresentation in Chen’s application for the permit. Chen was issued two Social Security numbers in 1998 with little documentation as to why, but does not violate federal laws unless he used both numbers consistently since 1998.
“There are two Social Security numbers when there shouldn’t be,” Delaware police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said.
“The Social Security Administration admits it can happen especially prior to September 11, 2001.”
Delaware police Detective David McQuigg said he established that Chen was using an incorrect Social Security number in his application. James Talbert, an attorney for the Flying Pig Ale House, provided McQuigg another number, which brought up a 2012 felony drug conviction in Franklin County.
Chen pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and was placed on probation for nearly two years, according to court documents, and has complied with the terms and, therefore, discharged on March 15, 2015.
Pijanowski said it would be reasonable to have Liquor Control hear these facts and have the applicant provide an explanation.
“This is not council or staff saying we do not want a liquor permit,” said city Economic Development Director Sean Hughes. “This is simply saying we’re doing our due diligence to our residents that we’re looking into the circumstances of the permit application before its granted.”
Talbert said there was no intention to hide the conviction and that Chen used the correct Social Security number on his application the first time, based on conversations with the SSA.
“I just think it was a misunderstanding,” he said.
Hughes requested the transfer application and then later the application for the permit itself, Talbert said.
While the transfer application did not ask about convictions, Talbert said he confirmed Chen had a felony conviction on the second application. When Talbert submitted the application to Hughes, he did not provide a written explanation along with other subsequent documents because they were not requested.
Chen and co-owners TJ Wellman and Amanda Sykes purchased 12 S. Sandusky St. in January. Chen plans to invest $150,000 in the project, creating 10 jobs, Talbert said. Construction was expected to be finished next year for the casual, small-plate eatery.
Chen owns three other businesses, including Buckeye Fusion of Lancaster, Poke Doke in Columbus and Poke Bros at Polaris Fashion Place mall.
Wellman is a co-owner of Typhoon Asian Fusion Bistro, 10 N. Sandusky St., with Xue Qin Chen, Xue Gong Chen’s brother, as the business’ liquor permit holder.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.